In a midsession reversal (MSR) task, animals are typically presented with a simple, simultaneous discrimination (S1+, S2−) where contingencies are reversed (S1−, S2+) half-way through each session. This paradigm creates multiple, relevant cues that can aid in maximizing overall reinforcement. Recent research has shown that pigeons show systematic anticipatory and perseverative errors across the session, which increase as a function of proximity to the reversal trial. This behavior has been theorized to indicate primary control by temporal cues across the session, instead of the cues provided by recent reinforcement history that appear to control behavior shown by humans. Rats, however, appear to be guided by recent reinforcement history when tested in an operant context, thereby demonstrating behavior that parallels that seen in humans, but they appear to be guided by temporal cues when tested in an open-field apparatus, showing behavior more akin to that seen in pigeons. We tested rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) on the MSR with a computerized simultaneous visual discrimination to assess whether they would show errors indicative of control by time or by recent reinforcement history. When a single reversal point occurred midsession, rhesus macaques showed no anticipation of the reversal and a similar level of perseveration to rats tested in an operant setting. Nearly identical results also were observed when the monkeys were trained with a single, variable reversal point or with multiple, variable reversal points within a session. These results indicate that temporal cues are not guiding response flexibility in rhesus macaque visual discrimination.
Animal Cognition – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 28, 2017
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