Anticipation of a midsession reversal in humans

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  • In a two-stimulus visual discrimination choice task with a reversal in reward contingencies midway through each session, pigeons produce a surprising number of anticipatory errors (i.e., responding to the second-correct stimulus before the reversal) based on failure to inhibit timing-based intrusion errors; limited prior research has suggested humans’ performance is qualitatively different. Here we illustrate a partial replication of previous findings in humans, but suggest based on our results that humans process these tasks in a manner similar to pigeons. Humans made relatively few but consistent errors across both simultaneous- and successive-choice experiments. Anticipation errors were limited when the identity of the first-correct stimulus alternated between sessions, consistent with the behaviour of pigeons. Subsequent experiments found evidence for anticipation on a purely temporal simultaneous choice task, and fewer errors with symmetrical reinforcement and punishment of responses on a sequential choice task. Interval timing causes conflicts with decision-making processes on the midsession reversal task that are consistent, but differ in magnitude, across species.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International