The influence of ultraviolet radiation on the pigeon's color discrimination

J Exp Anal Behav. 1972 May;17(3):325-37. doi: 10.1901/jeab.1972.17-325.


Two experiments demonstrated the pigeon's sensitivity to ultraviolet light. In Experiment I, pigeons' responses were reinforced on a multiple schedule with a variable-interval reinforcement schedule in one component and extinction in the other component. Response rates were quite different in the two components where the 520-nm stimuli signalling each component differed only in that one of them contained a 366-nm ultraviolet component. In Experiment II, pigeons were trained to peck one side key when two halves of a split field were of different wavelength and to peck another side key when they were of the same wavelength. Initially, field halves contained both "visible" and ultraviolet components of energy. Discrimination performance improved when the ultraviolet component was removed from one field half. It was argued that the critical change in the stimulus was a color change, rather than a brightness one, or a fluorescence of structures in the pigeon's eye.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Color Perception*
  • Columbidae
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Differential Threshold
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Eye / radiation effects
  • Generalization, Stimulus
  • Light
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychophysics
  • Radiation Effects
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Ultraviolet Rays*