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US specificity of occasion setting: hierarchical or configural learning?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Domhnall Jennings


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Four experiments in rats examined whether occasion setters and target CSs play qualitatively differentroles in occasion-setting discriminations. Two visual occasion setters, A and B, signalled reinforcementof two auditory target CSs, x and y, with sucrose and oil (A. . .x → suc, B. . .y → oil, A−, B−, x−, y−); inaddition two transfer CSs w and z were paired with sucrose and oil (w → suc, z → oil). When w and z were substituted for x and y (A. . .w, B. . .w, A. . .z, B. . .z) more responding was observed when both stimuli had been paired with the same outcome (Experiments 1 and 3a). No effect was observed when two visual “pseudo-occasion setters”, C and D (paired with sucrose and oil in a trace relation to the US:C. . . → suc, D. . . → oil), were substituted for the occasion setters A and B (C. . .x, D. . .x, C. . .y, D. . .y; Experiments 2, 3b and 4). These results could not be explained in terms of Pavlovian summation: responding to combinations of Pavlovian CSs paired with same or different outcomes was either the same, or lower when both stimuli had been paired with the same outcome (Experiment 4). Implications of these results for theories of occasion setting and configural learning are discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bonardi C, Bartle C, Jennings DJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Behavioural Processes

Year: 2012

Volume: 90

Issue: 3

Pages: 311-322

Print publication date: 19/03/2012

ISSN (print): 0376-6357

ISSN (electronic): 1872-8308

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2012.03.005


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