Associative transfer and stimulus selection in classical conditioning of the rabbit's nictitating membrane response to serial compound CSs

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Abstract

Four experiments using 196 albino rabbits sought to determine whether in conditioning to a serial compound, CS1-CS2-UCS, there are (a) associative mechanisms operating to extend conditioning beyond the bounds of a CS-UCS contiguity gradient and (b) stimulus selection processes acting to attenuate the potency of CS-UCS contiguity. In Exps I and II the CS2-UCS interval was held at .35 sec while the CS1-UCS interval was varied across groups from .75 to 2.75 sec. CS1 test trials revealed substantial CR acquisition at all CS1-UCS intervals. Moreover, Exp II indicated that, when the contribution of cross-modal generalization from CS2 to CS1 was factored out, there still remained a substantial level of conditioning, which Exp III indicated was attributable to an associative mechanism like higher-order or sensory conditioning. The observation of CR acquisition at CS1-UCS intervals of 4.75, 8.75, and 18.75 sec in Exp IV suggested that serial compound training yields conditioning to CSs located well beyond the single CS contiguity gradient for the rabbit's nictitating membrane response. Exps I and II also indicated the presence of stimulus selection processes, because at the shorter CS1-UCS intervals, the levels of test-trial responding to CS2 fell below those observed to the less contiguous CS1. (36 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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