The ability of visual CSs previously paired with flavored substances to substitute for those substances as conditional discriminative cues was examined in two Pavlovian appetitive conditioning experiments using rat subjects. In Experiment 1, a visual stimulus was first paired with the delivery of a sucrose solution. Then the rats were trained in conditional discrimination tasks in which sucrose delivery alone served as a conditional cue signaling whether or not a subsequent tone would be reinforced with food pellets. Subjects rapidly acquired discriminative performance to the tones, especially in a feature-negative condition in which sucrose delivery signaled when the tone would not be reinforced. In a subsequent test in which neither food nor sucrose was delivered, presentation of the visual CS also controlled discriminative performance to subsequently presented tones. Experiment 2 showed the ability of a visual CS to substitute for a flavored substance as a conditional cue to be highly stimulus specific. Experiment 2 also showed that a flavored substance was less effective as a conditional cue when it was made to be expected by preceding it with a previously associated visual signal than when it was made to be surprising by preceding it with a visual stimulus signaling another flavored liquid. These results indicate that CS-evoked representations of events can substitute for those events themselves in the control of previously established conditional discrimination performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Behavioral Neuroscience