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Comparative CognitionExperimental Explorations of Animal Intelligence$
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Wasserman and Thomas R Zentall

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377804

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377804.001.0001

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Properties of Time-Place Learning

Properties of Time-Place Learning

(p.229) 12 Properties of Time-Place Learning
Comparative Cognition

Christina M. Thorpe

Donald M. Wilkie

Oxford University Press

The availability of food, mates, predators, and other biologically significant stimuli generally varies across both space and time. If these stimuli vary predictably, then it would be advantageous for animals to learn this spatiotemporal variability, so that they might maximally exploit these resources. The ability to learn spatiotemporal variability has become known as time–place learning (TPL). In The Organization of Learning, Gallistel (1990) put forth a theory stating that whenever a biologically significant event occurs, a memory code is formed that includes the nature of the event, as well as the time and place in which it occurred. When the animal is later faced with a biological need, it can consult these time–place–event memory codes, determine when and where that need has been met in the past, and use that information to guide its current behavior. In Gallistel's theory, animals' ability to tell time is of fundamental importance. This chapter examines this ability in rats and pigeons and considers three timing systems: ordinal timing, phase timing, and interval timing.

Keywords:   time–place learning, spatiotemporal variability, memory codes, rats, pigeons, ordinal timing, phase timing, interval timing

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