Perceptual Learning With Tactile Stimuli in Rats: Changes in the Processing of a Dimension

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Abstract

Four experiments with male rats investigated perceptual learning involving a tactile dimension (A, B, C, D, E), where A denotes 1 end of the continuum (e.g., a rough floor) and E the other (e.g., a smooth floor). In Experiment 1, rats given preexposure to A and E learned an appetitive discrimination between them more readily than those not given preexposure. Experiment 2a showed that rats preexposed to B and D acquired a discrimination between A and E more readily than those preexposed to A and E; and in Experiment 2b the same preexposure treatments had no effect on the acquisition of a discrimination between B and D. In Experiments 3a and 3b, rats given preexposure to C learned a discrimination between A and E more readily than those not given preexposure. Experiment 4 demonstrated that preexposure to a texture (e.g., B) that was adjacent to the to-be-discriminated textures (e.g., C and E) facilitated a discrimination between them relative to preexposure to their midpoint (D). These novel perceptual learning effects are interpreted as reflecting a redistribution of processing between the notional elements of the texture dimension.

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