Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Cynthia A. Wei, Alan C. Kamil, and Alan B. Bond (2014) Direct and Relational Representation During Transitive List Linking in Pinyon Jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) Journal of Comparative Psychology, Vol. 128, No. 1 (Feb 2014), pp. 1–10; doi: 10.1037/a0034627


Copyright © 2013 American Psychological Association. Used by permission.


The authors used the list-linking procedure (Treichler & Van Tilburg, 1996) to explore the processes by which animals assemble cognitive structures from fragmentary and often contradictory data. Pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) were trained to a high level of accuracy on two implicit transitive lists. They were then given linkage training on the single pair that linked the two lists into a composite, 10-item hierarchy. Following linkage training, the birds were tested on nonadjacent probe pairs drawn both from within (B-D and 2–4) and between (D-1, E-2, B-2, C-3) each original list. Linkage training resulted in a significant transitory disruption in performance, and the adjustment to the resulting implicit hierarchy was far from instantaneous. Detailed analysis of the course of the disruption and its subsequent recovery provided important insights into the roles of direct and relational encoding in implicit hierarchies.