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Counting ability as well as number transfer between perception and
performance was tested with domestic pigeons (Columba livia var.domestica) in Skinner-Box experiments.
The critical examination gave no reason to assume that animals have an abstract number conception. Furthermore, there was no evidence for spontaneous combination of successive and simultaneous presentations of quantities, nor for a transfer between seen quantities and performed pecks.
Using food as a reward in operant conditioning situations, one has to be aware of the animal's natural feeding strategy. Evolutionary adaptation may produce a constraint to an expected optimal foraging in experimental situations, but may on the other hand provide some numerical competence used in natural situations.
|Seen number of switched-on lights, in changing patterns, has to be answered by a defined number of pecks to the adjoining panel © Seibt
Seibt, Uta 1988: Are animals naturally attuned to number? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 11 (4), 597-598
Seibt, Uta 1982: Zahlbegriff und Zählverhalten bei Tieren. Neue Versuche und Deutungen. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 60, 325-341
Seibt, Uta 1982: Optimal foraging in learning experiments in relation to evolutionary constraints. pp. 117-119 In: Evolution and determination of animal and human behaviour (H.-D. Schmidt & G. Tembrock eds.). VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften Berlin. (XXIInd Intern.Congr.Psychol., Leipzig 1980)