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Christine Scholtyssek, Daniel C. Osorio, Roland J. Baddeley; Color generalization across hue and saturation in chicks described by a simple (Bayesian) model. Journal of Vision 2016;16(10):8. doi: 10.1167/16.10.8.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Color conveys important information for birds in tasks such as foraging and mate choice, but in the natural world color signals can vary substantially, so birds may benefit from generalizing responses to perceptually discriminable colors. Studying color generalization is therefore a way to understand how birds take account of suprathreshold stimulus variations in decision making. Former studies on color generalization have focused on hue variation, but natural colors often vary in saturation, which could be an additional, independent source of information. We combine behavioral experiments and statistical modeling to investigate whether color generalization by poultry chicks depends on the chromatic dimension in which colors vary. Chicks were trained to discriminate colors separated by equal distances on a hue or a saturation dimension, in a receptor-based color space. Generalization tests then compared the birds' responses to familiar and novel colors lying on the same chromatic dimension. To characterize generalization we introduce a Bayesian model that extracts a threshold color distance beyond which chicks treat novel colors as significantly different from the rewarded training color. These thresholds were the same for generalization along the hue and saturation dimensions, demonstrating that responses to novel colors depend on similarity and expected variation of color signals but are independent of the chromatic dimension.
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