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The fate of redundant cues during blocking and a simple discrimination.

Authors
  • Pearce, John M1
  • Dopson, Jemma C
  • Haselgrove, Mark
  • Esber, Guillem R
  • 1 School of Psychology.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of experimental psychology. Animal behavior processes
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2012
Volume
38
Issue
2
Pages
167–179
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1037/a0027662
PMID: 22486755
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

In each of three experiments animals received blocking, A+ AX+, in which food was always presented after one stimulus, A, that was occasionally accompanied by another stimulus, X. They also received a simple discrimination, AX+ BX-, in which the presence and absence of food was signaled by two compounds that contained one unique cue, A or B, and one common cue, X. In each of these designs, X can be said to be redundant relative to A as a signal for food. Test trials at the end of training revealed that responding during X was stronger after blocking than after the simple discrimination. These results contradict predictions from theories of learning that assume changes in associative strength of a stimulus are determined by a global error term based on the outcome predicted by all the stimuli that are present for a conditioning trial. The results are interpreted, instead, by assuming either that animals store a memory of every trial to which they have been exposed, or that learning is governed by an error term based on the significance of individual stimuli.

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