Interocular transfer in the pigeon
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The interocular transfer of simultaneously presented visual discriminations was examined in the pigeon (Columba livia) in several experimental situations. When trained monocularly on a jumping stand, there was no evidence of transfer to the other eye-hemisphere system of either pattern or colour discriminations using retraining and reversal learning measures as well as testing. This failure was not due to any obscuring of transfer consequent upon switching the occluder from one eye to the other, nor was there any suggestion of even a small amount of transfer of information from the trained eye to the untrained eye with extensive overtraining and decoupling trials. Binocular training on the jumping stand also revealed that some of the pigeons were learning a discrimination with only one eye in spite of the opportunity to learn with both eyes. When trained in a key pecking task, pigeons demonstrate perfect transfer. Testing revealed that this discrepancy in results is not due to the number of trials given in the two situations, to separation of the stimuli over a greater distance or by a partition, nor to the distance at which the pigeon makes a decision about which stimulus to approach. When the function of the retinal locus of the stimuli was examined, evidence was found in the literature and in my observations that the pigeons were using a different part of the retina when scanning the stimulus display in a key pecking task than on the jumping stand, even though the stimuli in the two situations were located in the same position relative to the bird's head. Specifically, in the key pecking tasks the red area of the retina, which serves the lower binocular portion of the retina, is used. On the jumping stand this area is not used to scan the stimuli. It was then possible to demonstrate a failure of transfer in a key pecking task and successful transfer on the jumping stand by simply manipulating whether the red area was used in scanning the stimuli. The results are discussed in terms of a consequence of binocular convergence from the red area, and when there is a failure of transfer, when the red area is not used, or prevented from being used, the stimuli fall within the monocular field where there is no necessity of later convergence from the two inputs. Active inhibition mechanisms also might serve to lateralize input to one hemisphere.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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