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Autoshaping

Autoshaping (sometimes called "sign tracking") is any of a variety of experimental procedures used to study classical conditioning in pigeons. In its simplest form, autoshaping is very similar to Pavlov's salivary conditioning procedure using dogs. In Pavlov's best-known procedure, a short audible tone reliably preceded the presentation of food to dogs. The dogs naturally, unconditionally, salivated (unconditional response) to the food (unconditional stimulus) given them, but through learning, conditionally, came to salivate (conditional response) to the tone (conditional stimulus) that predicted food (c.f., conditioning). In autoshaping a light is reliably turned on shortly before pigeons are given food. The pigeons naturally, unconditionally, peck (unconditional response) at the food (unconditional stimulus) given them, but through learning, conditionally, came to peck (conditional response) at the light source (conditional stimulus) that predicts food.

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