A role for conditioned stimulus duration in toxiphobia conditioning

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Five experiments investigated the effect of CS exposure duration on toxiphobia conditioning in adult male and 8-day-old male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. When a relatively long (20-30 min) CS exposure was administered on the conditioning trial, Ss subsequently displayed a reduced conditioned aversion in comparison with when CS exposure was relatively brief (5-20 min). This result was obtained in an odor-aversion learning task with neonatal Ss (Exp I and II) and in a flavor-aversion learning task with adult Ss (Exp III). This phenomenon was further investigated in the odor-aversion task by presenting neonates with 2 discrete 10-min exposures to the odor CS and by varying the temporal proximity of the 2 CS presentations both to each other and to the occurrence of the UCS. Two exposures to the CS reduced conditioning in comparison with a single exposure but only when the 2nd CS presentation preceded UCS occurrence by at least 5-min (Exp IV and V). Both nonassociative and associative interpretations of the data are discussed. (28 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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