Adaptation of timing behavior to a regular change in criterion

Federico Sanabria, Liliana Oldenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This study examined how operant behavior adapted to an abrupt but regular change in the timing of reinforcement. Pigeons were trained on a fixed interval (FI) 15-s schedule of reinforcement during half of each experimental session, and on an FI 45-s (Experiment 1), FI 60-s (Experiment 2), or extinction schedule (Experiment 3) during the other half. FI performance was well characterized by a mixture of two gamma-shaped distributions of responses. When a longer FI schedule was in effect in the first half of the session (Experiment 1), a constant interference by the shorter FI was observed. When a shorter FI schedule was in effect in the first half of the session (Experiments 1, 2, and 3), the transition between schedules involved a decline in responding and a progressive rightward shift in the mode of the response distribution initially centered around the short FI. These findings are discussed in terms of the constraints they impose to quantitative models of timing, and in relation to the implications for information-based models of associative learning.This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Associative and Temporal Learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-71
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioural processes
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Associative learning
  • Behavioral dynamics
  • Fixed-interval schedules of reinforcement
  • Pigeons
  • Time perception
  • Timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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