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Blocking by fixed and variable stimuli: Effects of stimulus distribution on blocking

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Domhnall Jennings



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


An experiment with rats compared the ability of fixed and variable duration cues to produce blocking. Rats in Group B (Blocking) were trained that both fixed- (F) and variable- (V) duration cues would be followed by food delivery. In a subsequent training stage F and V continued to be reinforced, but F was accompanied by X, and V by Y. In the test phase responding to X and Y was examined. Control Group O (Overshadowing) received identical treatment, except that F and V were nonreinforced in the first training stage. In Group B there was evidence for blocking, but only of X which had been conditioned in compound with the fixed-duration F; there was no evidence for blocking of Y, which had been conditioned in compound with the variable duration V. It is suggested that this result may occur because fixed cues reach a higher, more stable asymptote of associative strength than their variable equivalents.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jennings DJ, Bonardi C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Year: 2017

Volume: 70

Issue: 9

Pages: 1964-1972

Print publication date: 01/09/2017

Online publication date: 25/07/2016

Acceptance date: 13/07/2016

Date deposited: 03/08/2016

ISSN (print): 1747-0218

ISSN (electronic): 1747-0226

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2016.1216574


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