Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Family and friends, Kori would like to introduce you to the amazing and talented pigeon Gilbert.  Gilbert is part of Kori's experimental analysis of behavior class at SUU.  Shown here in this photo, Gilbert is exploring the world of the fascinating Skinner Box.  Gilbert has been assisting Korinne with various labs to study association and conditioning.  Just today Kori was able to teach Gilbert that he would get food if he pecked the small black dot on the wall by his head.  She did this by giving him food if he made motions toward the dot.  After luring him in close he learned that a peck would trigger the magazine and boom, food magically appears.  Sadly after happily enjoying his new found method of obtaining food, it was time for Korinne to learn about extinction.  This means that Kori told Gilbert that everything he learned was wrong.  Now the button didn't give him food and he forgot all about it.  I know, I know, you're asking why isn't PETA stepping in to protect innocent animals like Gilbert.  Sadly we still live in a world where unfeeling college students can exploit poor pigeons. 

6 comments:

Carly said...

Kori where in the heck did you get the pigeon? Did you catch it? That is a crazy experiment, Im sad he forgot how to get his food!

Penny said...

I would like to use this method on my children. So if I see them picking up clothes, or making their beds, I put food in their mouths? Then eventually, everytime their hungry they will want to clean their rooms? Love it!

Penny said...

they're hungry

Korinne said...

Car- I'm in an Experimental of Analysis class and there are 16 pigeons that we got to pick from the first day of class. During Dr. Jones' demonstration my partner (Megan) and I decided we really liked pigeon number 4 because he was so mellow. There were some that were freaking out and trying to escape from their cages. Pigeon number 4 however just sat there and stared at us, seeming to plead with his beady, little red eyes, "Pick Me!". We were so excited to get him but after just the first day we realized that we may have made a big mistake! We were supposed to have them on free feed (just fill their food bowls to the top) for the first week to try to get him to his ad libidum weight. The ad lib weight is what the bird weighs when he has access to all the food he wants. Then, after free feed we were supposed to deprive them of food for a day and then only give him very little food for the next few days to get him to his running weight. Running weight is 80% of his ad lib weight. Well the problem that we realized was that our pigeon was anorexic! He wouldn't eat when he was on free feed and we were super worried about him because we were going to have to deprive him of food soon! Anyway, during this time Megan and I decided we needed to name our pigeon, maybe if he felt loved then he would eat. So I wrote Easton on his mission and asked what he thought a good name would be. The next letter he said that he had prayed long and hard about it and that my pigeon should be named Gilbert! We loved it and it seems since we named him he has been eating much more. Well I have to go to school but there is much more to this story if you are interested so stay tuned!

Karen said...

It's been too long since the last Gilbert update. We want more!

Rick and Kori said...

Well, mom is right. Gilbert updates have been non-existent for the past few weeks. We have done four labs with Gilbert now. Lab 2 we did Magazine training with him. We were supposed to have him associate a light and a noise with food. So I had a trigger that I would push which would turn on a light and pop open a magazine that distributed food. It took Gilbert a VERY long time to actually go for the food when we would open the magazine. He was being a wuss because my partner and I were in the room :) For some reason he was scared that we were just sitting there staring at him, watching his every mood...hmmm I can't imagine how that would be frightening :) After many trials Gilbert finally got comfortable with us and associated the light, loud noise and food! Lab 3 the was the most exciting because Gilbert actually cooperated! He definitely did us proud. We had to get him to peck a button by his head and every time he did he was reinforced with food. Because at first Gilbert didn't know what we wanted him to do we had to shape his behavior. Anytime he even moved his head close to the button I would pop open the box with food in it. He quickly realized that pecking the button distributed food. Sadly, after 20 reinforcements we had to put him on extinction. After we gave him food 20 times for pecking the button, then we didn't give him any food for pecking it. I felt really bad doing this because I wanted to continue reinforcing him for his amazing performance! I couldn't believe how quickly extinction works. He had an initial extinction burst where he pecked the key 28 times in one minute and then after pecking it that many times with no food reinforcing the behavior he completely forgot that it even happened. He didn't peck the key again. Wow how easily we can manipulate animals, and people for that matter! It works the same way. I did Lab 4 yesterday and that was quite a bit more frustrating. I don't think pigeons should be allowed Spring Break...it messes with their minds :) He didn't have any training experiences for a few weeks and when we put him back in the Skinner Box we were back at square one...grrr! For this lab we were supposed to put Gilbert on a fixed ratio schedule. We were supposed to reinforce him on every fifth peck of the key. Well, we learned that Gilbert isn't very persistent. He would peck it 4 times and then give up. All he needed to do was peck it one more time and he would get the food! Then he would wait like five minutes and then peck again. Well technically that was the fifth peck and we were supposed to reinforce him for it but there is no way he associated the fifth peck with food after that big of a break. Needless to say, we will have a few more training sessions on this Lab. Pray that I don't strangle him :) Don't worry, I couldn't hurt cute little Gilbert...after all my grade depends on it!