Three experiments with rat subjects examined the development of simultaneous and serial feature-positive discriminations in appetitive conditioning. In Experiment 1, reinforced presentations of a simultaneous light-tone compound were intermixed with nonreinforced presentations of either the light or the tone. The compound stimulus acquired conditioned behaviors of a form characteristic of the predictive feature alone; the element common to reinforced and nonreinforced trials did not evoke conditioned behavior. In Experiment 2, reinforced presentations of a serial light-trace-tone compound were intermixed with nonreinforced tone-alone presentations. The light feature stimulus acquired conditioned behaviors characteristic of visual CSs. The tone stimulus, common to reinforced and nonreinforced trials, evoked conditioned behaviors characteristic of auditory CSs, but only when preceded by the light. In Experiment 3, variations in the interval between the light and tone on reinforced trials had little effect on responding to the light CS but substantially altered the pattern of responding to the tone CS. These results suggested that simultaneous and serial feature-positive discriminations may be solved differently. Performance in simultaneous feature-positive discriminations may be determined solely by associations between the feature stimulus and the reinforcer, but performance in serial discriminations may also involve the acquisition of a conditional cue function to the feature.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Behavioral Neuroscience