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JOURNAL OF THE EXPERIMENTAL ANALYSIS OF BEHAVIOR 1987,48, 1-15 NUMBER 1 (J}ULY

)
AN ANIMAL MODEL OF THE INTERPERSONAL
COMMUNICATION OF INTEROCEPTIVE
(PRIVATE) STATES
DAVID LUBINSKI AND TRAVIS THOMPSON
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Pigeons were taught to interact communicatively (i.e., exchange discriminative stimuli) based on 1
pigeon's internal state, which varied as a function of cocaine, pentobarbital, and saline administration.
These performances generalized to untrained pharmacological agents (d-amphetamine and chlordi-
azepoxide) and were observed in the absence of aversive stimulation, deprivation, and unconditioned
reinforcement. The training procedure used in this study appears similar to that by which humans
learn to report on (tact) their internal environments and may be construed as a rudimentary animal
model of the interpersonal communication of private events.
Key words: private events, tacts, interanimal communication, emotion, pigeons

Roger Schnaitter (1978) has defined private 1978) to interact by exchanging discriminative
events as "[t]hose phenomena of psychological stimuli that are arbitrarily matched with some
interest taking place 'inside the skin,' at a cov- feature of their external environment is clear.
ert level, observable beyond the first person by Although there is disagreement as to whether
indirect means, if at all" (p. 1). The present such exchanges constitute truly linguistic ac-
experiment investigated the role of experi- tivity (Brown, 1970; Premack & Woodruff,
mentally manipulated private events in setting 1978; Terrace, Petitto, Sanders, & Bever, 1979)
the occasion for communicative behavior be- there is little doubt that basic elements of sym-
tween nonhuman organisms. The aims of this bolic representation of meaning (Gardner &
study were to determine whether nonhuman Gardner, 1984) and rudiments of early human
animals could learn to interact communica- child semantics have been taught to nonhuman
tively (i.e., exchange discriminative stimuli with primates (Gardner & Gardner, 1975; Savage-
each other), based on events in their internal Rumbaugh, 1984). For example, Savage-
milieu, report on similar internal (private) Rumbaugh, Rumbaugh, and Boysen (1978)
events that had not been involved in training, taught chimpanzees to use pictorial stimuli to
and whether performance on these tasks could report to other chimpanzees the presence or
be observed in the absence of a primary es- absence of the actual objects in a nearby room,
tablishing operation (i.e., without aversive to which only one animal had visual access.
stimulation or deprivation) and unconditioned Moreover, limited elements of such interani-
reinforcement. mal exchanges have also been taught to pigeons
That it is possible to teach chimpanzees (Epstein, Lanza, & Skinner, 1980; Lubinski
(Fouts, 1973; Gardner & Gardner, 1971; & MacCorquodale, 1984). The present study
Rumbaugh, 1977) and gorillas (Patterson, grows out of the latter work with substitution
of private interoceptive stimuli for exterocep-
This study was based on a dissertation submitted by tive stimuli as the stimulus source for exchange
David Lubinski to the University of Minnesota in partial between animals.
fulfillment of the Doctor of Philosophy degree. The re- This study is based on recent findings re-
search was funded by two grants from the University of vealing that laboratory animals can be con-
Minnesota Graduate School, a dissertation fellowship and
dissertation special grant, and by National Institute on ditioned to emit tacts. A tact is defined as "a
Drug Abuse Training Grant 5RO1-DA02717. We are verbal operant in which a response of a given
indebted to James Cleary for the patience and skill he form is evoked (or at least strengthened) by a
displayed in providing technical support during this ex- particular object or event or property of an
periment. Reprints may be obtained from Travis Thomp- object or event" (Skinner, 1957, pp. 81-82).
son, Department of Psychology, Elliott Hall, 75 E. River
Road, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota As verbal operants, tacts are not maintained
55455. by particular reinforcers, nor do they covary
1
DAVID LUBINSKI and TRAVIS THOMPSON

with the subject's state of deprivation or aver- lever which produces no reinforcement (the
sive stimulation; they are often maintained by vehicle lever). On intervening days the animal
generalized conditioned reinforcers (i.e., stimuli receives a vehicle injection, in which the op-
that were initially neutral but have accrued posite response is defined as correct, and presses
reinforcing efficacy through pairing with two on the drug lever are unreinforced. This pro-
or more unconditioned reinforcers) (cf. Ca- cedure leads to rapid learning to respond only
tania, 1984; MacCorquodale, 1969; Segal, to the drug-correlated lever on days the train-
1977; Skinner, 1957; Winokur, 1976). Tacts ing drug has been administered and on the
are distinguished from mands (a more primi- alternate lever on days the vehicle has been
tive class of verbal behavior) defined as "a administered. An array of psychoactive drugs
verbal operant in which the response is rein- produces differential responding based on in-
forced by a characteristic consequence and is teroceptive stimulus conditions (Colpaert,
therefore under the functional control of rel- 1978; Griffiths, Roache, Ator, Lamb, & Lu-
evant conditions of deprivation or aversive kas, 1985; Holtzman, 1985; Overton, 1977).
stimulation" (Skinner, 1957, pp. 35-36). Moreover, by using as the training compound
Verbal operants meeting the formal re- a drug known to occupy a specific neurore-
quirements of tacts have been conditioned in ceptor, these methods have permitted rapid and
both chimpanzees (Savage-Rumbaugh, 1984) precise identification of the types of neuro-
and pigeons (Lubinski & MacCorquodale, chemical receptors occupied by a test drug,
1984). However, subjects in those studies were which has been confirmed by isolated tissue
trained to tact exteroceptive stimuli (geometric assays (Woods, Young, & Herling, 1982).
figures, pictures, colors, letters, etc.). In the In the present study pigeons were trained
present research, nonhuman animals were to differentially peck three keys in relation to
conditioned to tact interoceptive stimuli. Their saline or one of two drugs, using a procedure
tacts were reinforced with a generalized con- similar to that described by France and Woods
ditioned reinforcer: a flashing light paired with (1985). The birds were then taught to ex-
both food and water reinforcement (under both change arbitrary discriminative stimuli cor-
reinforcer-relevant deprivation conditions and related with the agent that had been admin-
when satiated). istered on a given day. In a second phase,
Skinner (1953, 1957, 1974) and others have generalization to related internal drug states
explored the role private events may play in (and the associated exteroceptive discrimina-
modulating overt (verbal and nonverbal) be- tive stimuli) was tested. Finally, communica-
havior (cf. Moore, 1980, 1984; Schnaitter, tive exchanges were evaluated without a pri-
1978). In one of his more important papers, mary establishing operation and unconditioned
Skinner (1945) provided an interpretation of reinforcement.
the manner in which humans learn to report
on private events (which are not accessible to METHOD
the verbal community for confirmation). How-
ever, the systematic laboratory study of inter- Subjects
oceptive stimuli regulating behavior has its Subjects were 5 experimentally naive female
roots in early work by Pavlov and his col- white Carneau pigeons (Columba livia) di-
leagues (Razran, 1961). Subsequently, several vided into two groups, referred to as "man-
investigators demonstrated that animals could ders" (2 birds) and "tacters" (the remaining
learn to respond differentially to the internal 3). Although our subjects' behavior will not
state produced by a psychoactive drug versus meet all of the defining features of mands and
the internal milieu associated with a vehicle tacts until later in the experiment, we will refer
(usually saline) injection (Schuster & Brady, to them as manders and tacters from the outset.
1964; Thompson & Pickens, 1971). All animals were housed in individual cages
In typical drug discrimination studies with located in a constantly illuminated vivarium,
nonhumans, a food-deprived animal is injected with temperature maintained at 25 ± 10 C.
with a training drug (e.g., morphine) and is Gravel was constantly available in the home
given the opportunity to press one of two le- cage, and food and water were available fol-
vers, or peck one of two keys, leading to food lowing each session according to the schedule
reinforcement (the drug cue lever), or a second discussed below.
PRIVATE EVENTS 3

Apparatus responses were reinforced only when a blue
The experimental apparatus was the same light was flashing (see Figure 1). This was to
as that used in the Lubinski and Mac- establish the flashing blue light as a general-
Corquodale (1984) investigation, but was ized conditioned reinforcer (Lubinski &
modified in several ways. It consisted of two MacCorquodale, 1984; Savage-Rumbaugh,
contiguous experimental chambers, separated 1984; Segal, 1977; Skinner, 1957). Approxi-
by a 0.64-cm-thick transparent Plexiglas di- mately 6 weeks from the first adaptation ses-
vider, each supplied with an individualized sion were required for the flashing blue light
stimulus presentation and response panel (see to consistently control subjects' pecking of the
Figure 1). The dimensions of each of the two food and water keys.
compartments were 34.3 by 31.6 by 35.6 cm. The tacters were then trained to produce
The aluminum back wall of each chamber con- the flashing light by pecking response keys
tained several translucent discs (see Figure 1), labeled with letters representing "Depres-
which when pecked with a force of at least sant," "Stimulant," and "No drug," after re-
0.20 N broke the key contacts and was counted ceiving an intramuscular injection of either a
as a key peck. Keys were transilluminated with depressant (pentobarbital 8 mg/kg), a stim-
color lights (6 W, 110 vac) at indicated times ulant (cocaine, 3 mg/kg) or isotonic saline
(see below). Stimuli were presented (and all (given in the same volume as the other two
responses were recorded) by means of electro- drug solutions), respectively. Saline was also
mechanical equipment located in a nearby used as the vehicle for pentobarbital and co-
room. Extraneous sounds were attenuated by caine delivery. Cocaine and pentobarbital were
a continuously operating fan, and solenoid- chosen as training drugs because of their well-
operated delivery mechanisms were used for documented discriminative and reinforcing
reinforcement with food and water. Experi- properties in laboratory animals (Griffiths et
mental sessions were conducted 7 days per al., 1985; Schuster, Fischman, & Johanson,
week. The manders were trained in the left 1981) and because of the likelihood for their
chamber, the tacters in the right. Each subject's abuse in humans (Thompson & Unna, 1977).
playing of one of two parts (i.e., mander or Although unitary letters were projected on
tacter, shown in Table 1) was first individually the subjects' response keys representing the
conditioned according to the following proce- drug and drug-class names employed in this
dure. study (see Figure 1), we will use the names of
the drugs and drug classes in describing the
procedure to make this section easier to follow.
General Procedure The specific names presented on the tacters'
Training tacters. The tacters were initially response keys were chosen for clarity in ex-
trained in a complex two component chain: perimental exposition, not in an attempt to
The first component involved a three-key cross- impart symbolic meaning.
modal matching-to-sample discrimination Immediately following injection of one of
(composed of interoceptive sample stimuli the aforementioned agents, a tacter was placed
matched to exteroceptive counterparts). The into the darkened experimental chamber. Af-
second component comprised a two-key non- ter a 20-min interval, an overhead light was
reversible option (Findley, 1962), whereby all illuminated and, simultaneously, the three re-
pecks on the food and water keys were rein- sponse keys were transilluminated. Pecks
forced under a continuous reinforcement matching the birds' interoceptive state (i.e.,
schedule with their corresponding reinforcers. saline injection = "No drug," pentobarbital =
In the first step of the tacters' training, the "Depressant," and cocaine = "Stimulant")
birds, which were either 28 hr food deprived were followed by presentation of the flashing
and 4 hr water deprived or 28 hr water de- blue light, and then a response on the food or
prived and 4 hr food deprived (these two con- water key was reinforced with food or water.
ditions alternated in an A-B-A-B fashion), were Five key pecks were required to produce the
trained to peck the food and water keys. Pecks flashing light (FR 5); if either of the two other
on the water key made available 0.4 mL of keys was pecked five times, the overhead light
water for 4 s, whereas pecks on the food key and illumination behind the response keys were
provided access to mixed grain for 4 s. These terminated for 4 s, after which the houselights
DA VID LUBINSKI and TRA VIS THOMPSON

Manders' Chamber Tacters' Chamber

/Sample Key *.) Flashing
Blue light
Comparison
0 E
Keys Lenters nt
No Drug
E
_

o o Saline Cocaine Pentobarb Response Stimulant
KeysI
mo cm _ Food Water Food
Dispenser c Key Key
Water Foodd--J
LIDispenser DiSpL

'Thank You a.....(N
a Key S= Saline
C = Cocaine
c P- Pentobarbital
N. D - Depressant
'How Do You Feel ?' N-No drug
E
oU.0 Key .
_
o C [. =Stimulant

Fig. 1. Adjoining keyboards for the two groups of birds were separated by a Plexiglas divider. The manders
were trained in the left chamber; the tacters were trained in the right chamber. The procedure is given in Table 1.

and response keys were reilluminated and a both manders were maintained at 85% of their
new trial started. Approximately 7 months free-feeding values throughout the experi-
were required for the tacters to respond reli- ment. They were first trained (in a conditional
ably in this three-key discrimination procedure discrimination) to match the comparison keys
under both food and water deprivation con- labeled "Pentobarbital," "Saline," and "Co-
ditions; across the final 40 sessions of this caine" to the drug-class names projected on
7-month training interval, the tacters all per- their sample keys: "Depressant," "No drug,"
formed With an overall accuracy of 90%, and and "Stimulant," respectively. Thus, they were
with at least 80% accuracy in each of the six, taught to match drug-class names (to specific
2(Deprivation) x 3 (Drug), conditions (with drug names) by pecking response keys con-
a minimum of five observations in each con- taining names of the specific drugs.
dition). These percentages are based on the Training consisted of quasirandomly pro-
first FR 5 emitted at the beginning of each jecting the names of the three drug classes (De-
session. pressant, No drug, and Stimulant) onto the
Manders' training. Four response keys con- manders' sample key. Pecking the sample key
fronted the manders on their control panel: when a drug-class name was projected onto it
three comparison keys labeled "Pentobarbi- and then pecking the response key containing
tal," "Cocaine," and "Saline" and a sample the correct matching response (i.e., Depres-
key, on which the drug-class names (i.e., De- sant = Pentobarbital, Stimulant = Cocaine, and
pressant, Stimulant, and No drug) could be No drug = Saline) was reinforced with 4-s
projected (see Figure 1). The body weights of access to mixed grain. After the birds became
PRIVATE EVENTS 5

90 to 95% proficient at this task, two additional Table 1
requirements were added: The manders could The complete verbal episode.
produce the drug class names on the sample
key only by (first) pecking an illuminated key Component 1
located at floor level (Figure 1) labeled "How Mander: The mander's "How do you feel?" key is
illuminated and the mander pecks it, which
do you feel?" and (second) pecking a floor key advances the sequence to Component 2.
labeled "Thank you." Component 2
The manding performance involved a three-
component chain: The terminal link was an Tacter: All three of the tacter's response keys are il-
luminated simultaneously. It pecks the re-
arbitrary matching-to-sample task, whereas sponse key correlated with its state (i.e, co-
the preceeding two components (first, pecking caine state = Stimulant, pentobarbital
the "How do you feel?" key, and second, peck- state = Depressant, and saline state = No
ing the "Thank you" key) were reinforced un- drug). If the bird pecks a noncorresponding
key, the houselights in its chamber are
der a continuous-reinforcement schedule. dimmed for 4 s and the conditions of Com-
At this point during the training sequence, ponent 1 are reinstated. Pecking the cor-
individual subjects in both groups had inde- responding key advances the sequence to
pendently acquired the necessary component Component 3.
repertoire for an interanimal interaction based Component 3
on the tacters' interoceptive state. Individual Mander: The "Thank You" key in the mander's cham-
tacters and manders were placed in their ber is illuminated. The mander pecks the
"Thank You" key, which advances the se-
chambers simultaneously and access to each quence to Component 4.
component of the communicative exchange was Component 4
made contingent on the other bird's behavior Mander: The drug name previously pecked by the tac-
(see Table 1). (Before placing pairs of birds ter appears on the mander's sample key.
into the experimental apparatus to perform the Tacter: The blue light begins to flash in the tacter's
interaction, an adaptation manipulation was chamber.
conducted. Pairs of birds, composed of one Component 5
mander and one tacter, were placed in their Mander: The mander matches the drug-class name
respective chambers concurrently, with only projected on its sample key (i.e., it pecks
the houselights and the noise-attenuating fan the drug class) and the appropriate drug
operating. Each adaptation session lasted 45 (Stimulant = Cocaine, Depressant = Pen-
tobarbital, or No drug = Saline). This re-
min and all birds experienced at least four such sponse is reinforced with mixed grain. If
sessions.) the mander errs, the overhead houselights
in its chamber are dimmed for 4 s and the
conditions of Component 1 are reinstated.
PHASE 1: THE INTERANIMAL At the end of this component (i.e., after the
INTERACTION mander has produced a reinforcer or fin-
ishes a timeout), the conditions of Com-
Procedure ponent 1 are reinstated, and the cycle con-
tinues.
The interaction sequence began when the Tacter: The tacter receives either mixed grain or water
mander pecked its "How do you feel?" key. by pecking the appropriate key (after re-
This response illuminated the drug-class names inforcement the blue light stops flashing).
on the tacter's three response keys (i.e., "De- On satiated days, it receives only the flash-
pressant," "No drug," and "Stimulant"). The ing light; the blue light stops flashing when
the conditions of Component 1 are rein-
tacter then pecked the response key corre- stated by the mander.
sponding to the drug it had received. This re-
sponse illuminated the "Thank you" key in
the mander's chamber. When the mander
pecked the "Thank you" key, two events en- light flashing, the tacter could receive food or
sued concurrently: The tacter's blue light be- water by pecking the appropriate key, and the
gan to flash and the drug-class name previ- mander could receive food by correctly match-
ously pecked by the tacter appeared on the ing the specific drug (among its comparison
mander's sample key. At this point the re- response keys) to the drug class (on its sample
mainder of the response sequence of the 2 birds key) (see Table 1).
were independent of each other. With the blue Before each interaction, manders were given
DAVID LUBINSKI and TRA VIS THOMPSON
Table 2
Percentage of correct responses for each bird and their correspondence on the first interanimal
exchange across three phases. Phase 1 consists of four columns of data taken from the first trial
across 40 experimental sessions: The fractions under "Deprivation" represent the proportion
of correct responses by the tacters, under each of the six, 2 (food and water deprivation) x 3
(cocaine, pentobarbital, and saline), conditions. The denominator is the total number of sessions
for each condition, and the numerator the total number of correct "tacts" of drug-induced
internal states. Total % correct for all three conditions summed across both deprivation conditions
is in the next column. The third column represents the manders' accuracy at matching specific-
drug discriminative stimuli from drug-class discriminative stimuli (taken from the first trial
across all three conditions on days in which the tacters first matching response was correct).
Finally, the last column reflects the percentage of correct correspondence between the two birds
for each drug state (i.e., the product of the manders' accuracy and the tacters' accuracy for the
first trial across each condition). Phase 2: Combined performance of the three tacters and the
two manders (taken from the first trial across 48 experimental sessions). Columns of fractions
and percentages have the same meaning as in Phase 1, but with respect to chlordiazepoxide,
d-amphetamine, and saline. Phase 3: The columns in this table have the same meaning as those
describing Phase 2. An additional column labeled "Satiation" represents 18 sessions of tacters'
performance when satiated (2 satiated sessions, for each of the three conditions, chlordiazepoxide,
d-amphetamine, and saline, for all 3 birds).
Phase 1 Manders' Correspond-
Deprivation Total % accuracy ence accuracy
Drug Food Water correct (%) (%)
Tacter 1
Cocaine 3 mg/kg 5/5 4/5 90 89 80
Pentobarbital 8 mg/kg 5/5 5/5 100 90 90
Saline 9/10 9/10 90 94 85
Tacter 2
Cocaine 3 mg/kg 5/5 4/5 90 95 86
Pentobarbital 8 mg/kg 5/5 5/5 100 100 100
Saline 9/10 10/10 95 95 90
Tacter 3
Cocaine 3 mg/kg 5/5 5/5 100 70 70
Pentobarbital 12 mg/kg 5/5 5/5 100 80 80
Saline 10/10 9/10 95 95 90
Phase 2
Tacters' deprivation (n = 3) Manders' Correspond-
Total % accuracy ence accuracy
Drug Food Water correct (%) (%)
Amphetamine 2 mg/kg 5/6 6/6 92 91 84
Chlordiazepoxide 8 mg/kg 6/6 6/6 100 92 92
Saline 10/12 11/12 88 95 84

Phase 3
Correspond-
Tacters' deprivation (n =Total % Manders' ence accu-
Drug Food Water Satiation correct (%) (%)
Amphetamine 2 mg/kg 2/3 2/3 5/6 75 95 71
Chlordiazepoxide 8 mg/kg 3/3 3/3 6/6 100 92 92
Saline 14/15 14/15 6/6 92 97 89

12 warm-up trials of matching drug-class teractions. Although both manders worked with
names to specific drug names before the tacter all of the tacters, one worked primarily with
was placed in the adjacent chamber. Each Tacter 1, the other primarily with Tacter 3,
mander performed in an equal number of in- and Tacter 2 worked 50% of the time with
PRIVATE EVENTS 7

.

owT, oZa
Conqpwson

ISw do you fe"r key
(A) M e peck howdo you eW" key.
(B) Tac per k o for drug dles
corspnig to its drug stle.
(C) Mander pecks "Thank You" key.
(D) Mee pes duas symbol on
) sample key and pecps iedfx rug
symbol; tacte presnted with fashing
biu .h
k

(E) MmKderrewarded wkh food for corcti
lyco qlsUngttmsy*MbIxchange,
and t1se rekvo=d wih wal.
Fig. 2. A 2-pigeon communicative exchange based on the internal state of one of the birds (mander, left; tacter,
right). (A) The mander pecks its "How do you feel?" key. (B) The tacter pecks the drug-class letter corresponding to
its internal state. (C) The mander pecks the "Thank You" key, which presents the flashing blue light to the tacter;
this response also presents to the mander the drug-class letter previously pecked by the tacter. (D) The mander matches
the drug-class letter (projected on its sample key) by pecking it and then pecking the letter representing the specific
drug that the tacter is currently experiencing; the tacter attends to the flashing blue light. (E) The mander is reinforced
with food for correctly completing the communicative exchange; the tacter is reinforced with water.

each. For individuals in both groups, the birds' line alone) without the other administered once.
accuracies did not vary as a function of with On each experimental day, the three tacters
whom they were interacting. (Prior to the in- received different injections. This measure was
teranimal interaction, Tacter 3 began to show taken to prevent the manders from discrimi-
some signs of tolerance to pentobarbital. To- nating what drug condition was operating, be-
ward the middle and end of the 40-trial period, cause on every experimental day, one of the
it began pecking both the saline and pento- manders would perform twice and the other
barbital keys and taking some timeouts; there- only once (except on the days in which only
fore, it was decided to increase its dose of this two tacters were run: on these days each man-
agent to 12 mg/kg. We are indebted to Sheldon der performed once). Each session was con-
Sparber for recommending this modification. tinued until the tacter earned 40 reinforcers
After implementing this change, Tacter 3's ac- (either food or water). Finally, the first 2 days
curacy remained high throughout the 40-trial of the interanimal exchange are not reported
sessions.) in Table 2 (see below); both consisted of saline
On alternating days the tacters were either injections (one under food deprivation, the other
28 hr food deprived and 4 hr water deprived, under water deprivation) and were viewed as
or 28 hr water deprived and 4 hr food deprived. warm-up days (i.e., a time for the birds to
Administration of the drugs and of saline alone adapt to working interactively).
was quasirandomized: Tacters were given free
access to both food and water for 12 hr fol- Results and Discussion
lowing a cocaine or pentobarbital session, and Across 40 experimental days subjects per-
neither of these agents was given more than formed this interaction with a high degree of
twice in succession (discounting days with sa- accuracy; all three tacters performed at or above
DAVID LUBINSKI and TRAVIS THOMPSON

90% accuracy under all three interoceptive features of their behavior gradually shifted
states (see Table 2A). Random responding during this phase. (Subjects were observed by
would generate an accuracy of approximately closed-circuit television during all sessions.)
33% correct. Only the first exchange for each Initially, the birds spent nearly all of their time
session is reported, because although the birds in the area immediately adjacent to the re-
were required to perform 40 interanimal ex- sponse keys, and then pecked appropriately
changes on each day to maintain performance, when illumination appeared. However, grad-
once the birds received food or water, the dis- ually, the birds' overall activities seemed to
criminative stimulus for correct responding was come under the control of stimuli provided by
no longer exclusively the tacter's drug-induced each other's behavior as well as of stimuli aris-
internal state. The accuracy of the tacters' per- ing from the response keys. After each bird
formance on trials subsequent to the first ranged completed a component link in the sequence,
from 95% to 99% across all conditions; stan- it typically oriented toward the adjacent cham-
dard deviations for these percentages ranged ber. For example, after consuming food or
from 2.1% to 6.2% (see Appendix 1). The ac- water, the tacters approached the area adjacent
curacy of the manders' performance on each to the manders"'How do you feel?" key. When
day's 12 warm-up trials did not differ system- the "How do you feel?" key became illumi-
atically from performance in the subsequent nated, the tacters often pecked the transparent
trials in which the tacter was present. divider directly above the key. The manders
The overall correspondence between man- then approached and pecked the "How do you
ders and tacters (i.e., both birds performing a feel?" key, and then turned toward the "Thank
correct discrimination on the first interanimal you" key, standing in that position until the
exchange) ranged from 70% to 100% accuracy. key became illuminated following the tacters'
The probability of a correct correspondence response. If the tacters were slow in pecking
happening by chance is approximately 11% the drug-class key, the manders tended to peck
(the product of the two individual perfor- the transparent partition in a fashion similar
mances happening by chance, viz., .33 x .33 = to that described by Epstein et al. (1980) and
.11). Approximately 15 min were required to Lubinski and MacCorquodale (1984). In
complete 40 interanimal exchanges, across all practice, however, birds in both groups usually
three drug conditions (see Figure 2). completed successive links within the inter-
Although this may represent a unique in- action quickly, so such partition-pecking was
stance of communicative exchange (via arbi- not typical; it did occur, however, if either bird
trary matching tasks) between two nonhuman paused.
organisms based on the interoceptive state of
one of the participants, such exchanges are PHASE 2: GENERALIZATION TO
familiar among humans. People often ask one RELATED DRUGS
another how they feel, and maintain the prob-
ability of future reporting of internal states by Procedure
expressions of interest, concern, or enthusiasm The next objective of this research was to
about the speaker's self-reported feeling. In the determine whether the discriminative perfor-
present experiment, the manders' key peck re- mances established would generalize to similar
sponses requested information from the tacters but somewhat different states (i.e., private
based on the latter's internal state: tacters rein- events induced by pharmacological agents that
forced the manders' requests by tacting (i.e., the subjects had not experienced previously).
pecking) the drug-class name (on illuminated Chlordiazepoxide (Librium*) and d-amphet-
response keys) that corresponded to their cur- amine (Dexedrineg) are commonly used in
rent state; the manders then reinforced those our culture both therapeutically and recre-
tacts by emitting a response that produced the ationally (Miller et al., 1983; Szara & Lud-
flashing blue light and, in turn, matched the ford, 1981). Although d-amphetamine and
tacters' report by pecking a second class of chlordiazepoxide differ chemically and phar-
arbitrary stimuli that corresponded to the spe- macologically from cocaine and pentobarbital,
cific drugs. they both share pharmacological properties
Although the birds' accuracy remained high with these agents (Gilman, Goodman, Gil-
throughout the 40 experimental days, some man, 1980). Moreover, it is well established
PRIVATE EVENTS 9

that in conventional preparations for two- firmly established, generalization tests were
choice drug versus saline discrimination, they conducted (using similar but nevertheless novel
generalize to cocaine (Fischman, 1984) and test stimuli, viz., naloxone, ethylketazocine,
pentobarbital (Ator & Griffiths, 1983), re- buprenorphine, and pentazocine). The opiate
spectively. antagonist naloxone generalized to the nal-
The generalization test required a slight trexone response key and the opiate agonists
procedural modification, however. Because ethylketazocine, buprenorphine, and penta-
chlordiazepoxide is absorbed and distributed zocine generalized to the morphine response
more slowly than cocaine or pentobarbital, the key.
presession injection interval was increased to Further, the present generalizations, across
30 min. The first 2 days of the 30 min pre- depressants and across stimulants, of discrim-
session injection interval consisted of saline inations between cocaine, pentobarbital, and
injections (one under water deprivation, the saline internal states are consistent with earlier
second under food deprivation). Drug gener- (two-choice, drug versus saline) discrimina-
alization tests were then conducted in the same tion/generalization laboratory animal studies
unpredictable fashion with d-amphetamine (Ator & Griffiths, 1983; Brady & Griffiths,
administered at 2 mg/kg and chlordiazepoxide 1977; Griffiths et al., 1985; Johanson & Schus-
at 8 mg/kg intramuscularly in breast muscle. ter, 1977). Moreover, these data are in accord
with data from humans who were experienced
Results and Discussion with cocaine; these subjects did not report feel-
Of 24 trials, six for each test agent under ing differently when injected intravenously
food and water deprivation, only one error with 10 mg of amphetamine versus 16 mg of
occurred (i.e., 95.8% correct). This observa- cocaine (Fischman & Schuster, 1980). In ad-
tions was recorded the second time the subject dition, humans treated with chlordiazepoxide
(Tacter 1) was exposed to d-amphetamine; it report experiential effects similar to those pro-
had responded correctly on the first exposure duced by pentobarbital (Griffiths et al., 1985).
(see Table 2B). The accuracy of the tacters' Although the present findings are consistent
performance on trials subsequent to the first with earlier work, the finding that a nonhu-
ranged from 92% to 99% across all conditions; man animal can learn to perform a discrimi-
the average standard deviation for these per- nation of three internal states maintained by
centages was 4.6% (see Appendix 2). two reinforcers, under two distinctive depri-
The tacter pecked the drug-appropriate key, vation conditions, is new. An additional unique
reporting to its counterpart in the adjacent feature of this performance is that it is con-
chamber that the interoceptive stimuli engen- tained within an interanimal communicative
dered by d-amphetamine were more similar to exchange.
a cocaine state than to either saline- or pen-
tobarbital-induced states; similarly, it reported PHASE 3: SATIATION AND
that the interoceptive stimuli produced by DISCONTINUATION OF
chlordiazepoxide were more similar to a pen- PRIMARY REINFORCEMENT
tobarbital state than to a saline or cocaine state. The type of communicative behavior dis-
The correspondence accuracy for this condi- played by the tacters qualifies as tacts, that is,
tion ranged from 84% to 92% correct-chance verbal responses established with multiple
would be approximately 11%. reinforcers and that do not specify a particular
The tacters' three-key interoceptive discrim- reinforcer. In humans, tact relationships are
ination generalized to pharmacological agents often said to be maintained solely by gener-
that are known to produce similar, but pre- alized conditioned reinforcers (Lubinski &
sumably somewhat different, internal condi- MacCorquodale, 1984; Savage-Rumbaugh,
tions (Ator & Griffiths, 1983; Fischman, 1984). 1984; Skinner, 1957). In the present experi-
The tacters' performance is similar to that re- ment, the generalized conditioned reinforcer
ported by France and Woods (1985). They was the tacters' flashing blue light. To deter-
trained pigeons to peck three response keys mine whether the tacters would continue to
corresponding to the interoceptive stimulus report on their internal state when satiated
control of morphine, naltrexone, or saline *with food and water and without deprivation-
administration. After their performance was relevant reinforcement (but with the flashing
DAVID LUBINSKI and TRAVIS THOMPSON

light functioning as a generalized conditioned time it took the birds to earn 40 reinforcers
reinforcer contingent on discriminative re- (from the first correct response to final delivery
sponding), the following additional experi- of the food hopper) was as follows: 3 mg/kg
mental probe was conducted. cocaine (382 s), 8 to 12 mg/kg pentobarbital
(391 s), 2 mg/kg d-amphetamine (431 s), 8
Procedure mg/kg chlordiazepoxide (425 s), saline (424
The same procedure described in Phase 2 s). These times represent the interanimal mean
for d-amphetamine and chlordiazepoxide was for each condition; the saline time was com-
maintained; however, on every third or fourth puted from data collected on all three saline
day, the tacters were placed in their experi- days (nine data points), and can be viewed as
mental chamber after receiving 24 hr free ac- the birds' base rate.
cess to both food and water. Their food and
water response keys were inoperative during
this condition and, because of their satiated DISCUSSION
condition, they were only required to perform Pigeons were conditioned to respond dis-
five interanimal exchanges rather than the criminatively to three distinct interoceptive
usual 40. states; they were also trained to communica-
tively exchange arbitrary discriminative stim-
Results uli as a function of these states. Moreover, the
When food and water satiated (Table 2C) tacters' discriminative performances general-
and without consumable rewards, but with the ized to similar interoceptive stimulus condi-
flashing light contingent on correct respond- tions and, ultimately, were observed in the ab-
ing, the tacters continued to respond correctly sence of a primary establishing operation and
to manders' requests by accurately reporting when unconditioned reinforcers were no longer
on their internal states 83% to 100% of the delivered. The pigeons' tendency to interact in
time. Tacter 3 pecked a noncorresponding key this manner was directly related to the ade-
only once while under amphetamine water de- quacy of their experience and the strength of
privation, and Tacter 2 committed the other their repertoires for reporting on such private
two errors for this condition. The mean ac- events.
curacy of the tacters' performance on trials The tacters' behavior involved tacting pri-
subsequent to the first, for satiated sessions, vate events (via a matching-to-sample perfor-
was: amphetamine, 92%; chlordiazepoxide, mance in which the sample stimuli were in-
90%; and saline, 90% (see Appendix 3). The teroceptive). The birds were conditioned to
overall accuracy of the interanimal correspon- discriminate three internal states by pecking
dence for this condition ranged between 71% lettered response keys, and the discrimination
and 92% (chance performance would give an was reinforced with a generalized conditioned
accuracy measure of approximately 11 %). reinforcer (a stimulus paired with deliveries
of food and of water). Further, reinforcement
ANCILLARY ASSESSMENTS of their discriminative behavior did not covary
After completing Phase 3 of this study, key- with the particulars of their state of depriva-
pecking rate measures were obtained for all tion or aversive stimulation; their discrimi-
three tacters under administration of each of native responses were reinforced under both
four pharmacological agents as well as saline. food and water deprivation conditions and
These assessments were accomplished without when satiated. The manders, on the other hand,
participation of the manders, using the train- were conditioned to emit impure mands (i.e.,
ing program that had been employed prior to verbal responses jointly controlled by a specific
the interanimal interaction. Three sessions with state of deprivation (food) and maintained by
30-min presession injection intervals (chlor- the deprivation-relevant reinforcer, and by dis-
diazepoxide, saline, d-amphetamine) were fol- criminative stimuli provided by the tacters).
lowed by four sessions with 20-min presession One difference between the manner in which
injection intervals (saline, pentobarbital, sa- our subjects learned to tact private events and
line, cocaine). All 7 test days were conducted Skinner's (1945, 1984) hypothesis of how hu-
under food deprivation with the birds at 85% mans acquire this skill is the schedule of re-
of their free-feeding weights. The amount of inforcement during conditioning. In the pres-
PRIVATE EVENTS 11

ent study, the private events experienced by can be refined by subsequent research. The
our subjects (i.e., the drug states they were success of a synthesis is then judged not only
conditioned to tact) were controlled with vir- on the bases of the empirical results but also
tually 100% reliability and validity; our sub- on the extent to which the refined understand-
jects' accurate reports on their interoceptive ing of the phenomenon has implications for
states were reinforced on a continuous rein- the human nonlaboratory situations from
forcement schedule (CRF). The manner in which the analog emerged" (pp. 58-59). (For
which humans typically learn to tact private related discussions, see Lubinski & Thomp-
events, according to Skinner, is much less pre- son, 1986; and Thompson & Lubinski, 1986.)
cise, and reinforcement of doing so is inter- Of the four classes of human behavior enu-
mittent. merated by Epstein (1984) as candidates for
The persistence of generalized discrimina- animal simulation research, only covert behav-
tive responding maintained via the behavior of ior (i.e., thoughts, feelings, and images) have
another organism suggests that the tendency resisted empirical analysis using animal sim-
for animals to report on similar, though some- ulations. The present study demonstrates that
what different, internal experiences can be this class of behavior is also amenable to ob-
taught. Technically, the verbal responses emit- jective analysis via simulation with nonhuman
ted by the tacters during this phase of the subjects.
experiment qualify as extended tacts. "There The present findings suggest that interocep-
are several ways in which a novel stimulus tive stimuli and novel events at the neurore-
may resemble a stimulus previously present ceptor level not only are discriminated but can
when a response was reinforced, and hence come to be reported to other organisms. Non-
there are several types of what may be called human organisms can be taught to make such
'extended tacts'" (Skinner, 1957, p. 91). To discriminations and report them to their neigh-
the extent that these results adequately depict bors, communicatively, through a learning
the manner in which humans come to report process, and will continue to do so even without
on related but novel feelings, they are consis- a primary establishing operation and uncon-
tent with Skinner's (1945, 1984) hypothesis of ditioned reinforcement. At the same time, it is
how humans acquire this skill: Skinner sug- unlikely that the performances studied here
gests that people are able to describe novel constitute linguistic activity as the term is usu-
feelings because these states often share fea- ally understood (Brown, 1970). There is no
tures with familiar feelings on which they have reason to suppose any syntactic structure is
learned to report (i.e., extended tacts based on inherent in the pigeons' response sequences
interoceptive stimulus generalization). nor any reason to impart complex intention-
Most of the component behavioral units dis- ality to the birds' communicative exchanges.
played by our subjects have been observed in Nonetheless, the character of the perfomances
earlier work but had not been synthesized in share features with those seen in very young
this manner to build an animal model of hu- children or severely handicapped youth (e.g.,
man communicative behavior. Catania (1983) children with autism) who are just beginning
has discussed the utility of such demonstra- to respond differentially to and report on their
tions: "Behavioral analysis begins with com- own internal feelings (Lovaas, 1981). They
plex behavioral relations and breaks them down require a social community to begin to learn
into their components. One test of the ade- how to report on their internal states, but their
quacy of such an analysis is an experimental self-reports often seem rigid and restricted to
synthesis (e.g., Catania, 1972; Catania & Kel- a very narrow realm of available learning ex-
ler, 1981).... Sometimes we begin with con- periences.
cepts from human affairs as the bases for pro- Savage-Rumbaugh (1984) has pointed out
ducing novel behavioral relations. The differences between the behavior of the chim-
synthesis consists of creating within the lab- panzees involved in her research and the pi-
oratory a performance in some respects anal- geons in the Epstein et al. (1980) study, which
ogous to human behavior outside the labora- she believes cast doubt on the claim that the
tory ... once a phenomenon has been birds in the latter investigation were actually
demonstrated by a behavioral synthesis, its de- engaged in communicative activity. The pi-
fining properties and its range of applicability geons, Savage-Rumbaugh (1984) argues, were
12 DA VID LUBINSKI and TRA VIS THOMPSON

not trained in a verbal environment, hence nipulated pharmacologically). If the same holds
could not properly be said to be engaged in for people, one might expect large individual
verbal behavior. Moreover, she claims that differences in ability to report internal feelings
since the contingencies brought to bear on the depending on the adequacy of their discrimi-
pigeons' behavior were imposed by electronic native learning histories with respect to inter-
circuitry rather than by another individual, the oceptive events, often acquired under the tu-
result could not reasonably be characterized as telage of parents (or in some instances later in
"communication." The same concerns would life, e.g., via counseling or psychotherapy). In
presumably be applicable in the present in- addition, if one assumes there are substantial
vestigation, because the birds were not trained constitutional and/or genetically determined
by people who communicated like pigeons or individual differences in the availability of types
pigeons who communicated like people, nor of receptors upon which neurotransmitters
were the exchanges of discriminative stimuli can act (with their correlated affective events),
mediated without the assistance of electronic we would expect significant individual differ-
circuitry. The pigeons' experimental verbal ences in competence for reporting internal ex-
community (i.e., the other independently periences.
trained pigeons) was restricted to an extremely The notion that specific internal stimulus
limited range of behavior conforming to the events are critical components of emotion has
functional form of a dyadic exchange of cues. been widely held since William James (1890),
Thus, the question is, "Given a conspecific and recent evidence and theoretical suggestions
audience prepared to respond discriminatively concerning the relation of the benzodiazepine-
to a very limited range of verbal cues, would GABA receptor complex to human anxiety
a pigeon given the opportunity to report on its lends credence to this idea (Gray, 1982; Po-
internal environment do so, without being shivalov, 1987). Evidence from the increas-
hungry or thirsty, or being fed or given water ingly refined animal laboratory drug discrim-
for so doing?" The answer seems to be "Yes." ination procedures reveals that animals can
We believe the role of external circuitry in report on events at the neuroreceptor level much
mediating the exchange is less germane to the as organisms are able to respond differentially
question at hand. There are countless exam- to the way rod and cone cells in the retina are
ples of human dyadic exchanges in which por- activated. This suggests that it may be possible
tions of the contingencies between partici- to understand more objectively the role of in-
pants' stimuli and responses are mediated by ternal affective states by combining the tech-
external events between the speaker and the nologies of the animal drug discrimination
listener over which they have no control, and model with those of receptor chemistry. Fur-
we are still content to refer to such exchanges ther, the interorganism communication of cer-
as "verbal." These contingency manipulations tain qualities of affective states can be assessed
range from poor telephone connections be- by coupling these methods with the domain of
tween speaker and listener to messages left on interanimal communication. As Skinner (1953)
computer bulletin boards that may be re- remarked over 30 years ago, "The line between
sponded to by a computer rather than by a public and private is not fixed. The boundary
person. The essential question has to do with shifts with every new discovery of a technique
the functional relations between speaker and for making private events public.... The
listener and the controlling variables, not how problem of privacy may, therefore, eventually
the variables get implemented. be solved by technical advances" (p. 282).
If we have correctly described key features
of the way in which humans typically learn to
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APPENDIX 1 APPENDIX 2
Accuracy of the tacters' discriminative responding in trials Accuracy of the tacters' discriminative responding in trials
subsequent to the first matching response of Phase 1, with subsequent to the first matching response of Phase 2, with
deprivation conditions collapsed. The first column reports deprivations conditions collapsed. The first column reports
the mean % correct across all sessions, and the second the mean % correct across all sessions, and the second
column contains the standard deviation of this percentage. column contains the standard deviation of this percentage.
Mean Mean
cor- cor-
rect SD rect SD
Tacter 1 Tacter 1
Cocaine 3 mg/kg (n = 10) 99 2.3 Amphetamine 2 mg/kg (n = 4) 97 3.6
Pentobarbital 8 mg/kg (n = 10) 98 3.7 Chlordiazepoxide 8 mg/kg (n = 4) 95 10
Saline (n = 20) 98 2.6 Saline (n = 8) 99 4
Tacter 2 Tacter 2
Cocaine 3 mg/kg (n = 10) 95 5 Amphetamine 2 mg/kg (n = 4) 98 3.6
Pentobarbital 8 mg/kg (n = 10) 97 4.1 Chlordiazepoxide 8 mg/kg (n = 4) 92 13
Saline (n = 20) 97 5.9 Saline (n = 8) 97 5
Tacter 3 Tacter 3
Cocaine 3 mg/kg (n = 10) 99 2.1 Amphetamine 2 mg/kg (n = 4) 99 1.3
Pentobarbital 12 mg/kg (n = 10) 99 2.6 Chlordiazepoxide 8 mg/kg (n = 4) 100 0
Saline (n = 20) 98 6.2 Saline (n = 8) 99 1.1
PRIVATE EVENTS 15

APPENDIX 3
Accuracy of the tacters' responses during the satiated ses-
sions of Phase 3 subsequent to the first trial. Each tacter
experienced two sessions for each (amphetamine, chlor-
diazepoxide, and saline) condition. The fractions represent
the total number of correct responses divided by the total
number of matching responses; the percentages represent
the tacter's accuracy for this performance.
Tacter 1
Amphetamine
2 mg/kg 4/4 = 100%, 4/4 = 100%
Chlordiazepoxide
8 mg/kg 4/5 = 80%, 4/4 = 100%
Saline 4/4 = 100%, 4/7 = 57%
Tacter 2
Amphetamine
2 mg/kg 4/6 = 67%, 5/5 = 100%
Chlordiazepoxide
8 mg/kg 4/5 = 80%, 4/4 = 100%
Saline 4/4 = 100%, 4/5 = 80%
Tacter 3
Amphetamine
2 mg/kg 4/4 = 100%, 4/5 = 80%
Chlordiazepoxide
8 mg/kg 4/4 = 100%, 4/5 = 80%
Saline 4/4 = 100%, 4/4 = 100%