Spontaneous Configuring in Conditioned Flavor Aversion

Deswell T. Forbes, Peter C. Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A series of experiments investigated spontaneous configuring using the conditioned flavor aversion paradigm with rat subjects. In Experiment 1, extended training of a two-flavor compound stimulus did not produce spontaneous differentiation of conditioned responding to that compound and its elements. In Experiment 2 we found that extended nonreinforced exposure to a compound stimulus generated spontaneous element-compound differentiation when the elements were later conditioned. Rats that received extended preexposure to the compound showed less conditioned responding to the compound than to either of its elements. However, rats that had not received preexposure to the compound showed greater conditioned responding to the compound than to either of its elements (summation). In Experiment 3, nonreinforced preexposure to a compound stimulus prior to minimal reinforced compound training produced spontaneous compound-element differentiation, but extended reinforced compound training eliminated that differentiation. In Experiment 4, extended partial reinforcement training with a compound produced differentiation of the compound from its elements. Implications of these data for the mechanisms responsible for spontaneous configuring and for the summation assumptions common to most learning theories are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-240
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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