Reinforcer Devaluation Abolishes Conditioned Cue Preference: Evidence for Stimulus–Stimulus Associations

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In the conditioned cue preference (CCP) task, the subject is presented with a cue paired with food reward, resulting in a preference for the paired cue when allowed to choose later. To clarify the learning involved, the authors devalued the reinforcer after training by inducing a taste aversion to the food. In five 30-min sessions, rats were confined in 1 arm of a radial arm maze and presented with food. These reinforced sessions alternated with 5 unreinforced sessions in a nonadjacent arm. Devaluation was then accomplished in 1 group by inducing taste aversion; controls received either saline or unpaired lithium chloride treatment. When tested later, both the saline group and the unpaired group preferred the previously reinforced arm, but the devalued group showed aversion to it. Thus, CCP is mediated by the stimulus–reinforcer association; when the reinforcer is devalued, the preference is also abolished.

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