The "lunching" effect: Pigeons track motion towards food more than motion away from it

Felipe Cabrera, Federico Sanabria, David Shelley, Peter R. Killeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Four experiments measured pigeons' pecking at a small touch-screen image (the CS) that moved towards or away from a source of food (the US). The image's effectiveness as a CS was dependent on its motion, direction, and distance relative to the US. Pecking to the CS increased with proximity to the US when the CS moved towards the US (Experiment 1). This held true even when a departing CS signalled a US of greater magnitude (Experiment 2). Response rates to stationary stimuli were greater the closer they were to the hopper; but rate was less than when the same spot was part of a motion towards food, and greater than when it was part of a motion away (Experiment 3). The rate of responding in all three cases (motion towards, stationary, motion away) decreased exponentially with distance from the hopper. The distance and motion effects observed under these Pavlovian contingencies were different when pecking to the spot was required for reinforcement (Experiment 4).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-235
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural processes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Causal learning
  • Classical conditioning
  • Motion
  • Pigeons
  • Spatial contiguity
  • Touch-screen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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