This paper describes the behavioral adaptation observed for 16 pigeons responding to a step transition in the reinforcement rate in a repeated-trial design. Within each trial, following exposure for a fixed period to a variable-interval schedule, there was an unsignaled change in the schedule to extinction. The step transition allowed an experimental test of the applicability of a linear analysis to steady-state dynamic behavior. The computations required for this test yielded, as an intermediate result, transfer functions for each of the 16 birds from 1 mHz to 256 mHz. The transfer functions obtained show greater responsiveness to lower frequencies (i.e., longer time-scale structures in the reinforcement schedule); hence, the pigeons have the characteristics of a low-pass filter. The outcome of the test is that some predictability of the pigeons’ future behavior is possible.
Palya, William L.; Walter, Don; Kessel, Robert; and Lucke, Robert, "Investigating Behavioral Dynamics with a Fixed-time Extinction Schedule and Linear Analysis" (1996). Research, Publications & Creative Work. 77.