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Cues trained apart compete for behavioral control in rats: Convergence with the associative interference literature

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Abstract

Contemporary theories of associative learning require cues be trained in compound for cue competition (interference) to occur. That is, Cues A and X should compete for behavioral control only if training consists of AX-outcome (O) trials and not if each cue is separately paired with O (i.e., X-O and A-O). Research with humans challenges this view by showing that A-O trials interpolated between training and testing of a X-O association impair responding to X (i.e., retroactive interference). In six conditioned suppression studies with rats, the authors demonstrate that two cues trained apart can each interfere with the potential of the other to predict the outcome. The authors conclude that this type of interference (a) reflects a failure to retrieve the target association due to priming at test of the interfering association and (b) is attenuated if the outcome is of high biological significance. These findings parallel previous reports in verbal learning research and suggest that a similar associative structure underlies some types of associations in nonverbal subjects.
... These types of studies ordinarily yielded retroactive interference (recall of the second associate, parrot) or proactive interference (recall of the first associate, cat). Cell 3-type interference is not unique to verbal materials; it has been observed with both human participants (Matute & Pineño, 1998) and rat subjects (Amundson, Escobar, & Miller, 2003;Escobar, Matute, & Miller, 2001;Escobar, Arcediano, & Miller, 2001) in nonverbal preparations. For example, Amundson et al. trained rats with pairings of auditory Cue A and a shock. ...
... Note that situations in which two cues are trained with one outcome (Cell 3) and situations in which one cue is trained with two outcomes (Cell 4) could be explained in terms of degradation of the cue-outcome contingency: The second stage of treatment represents a situation in which one of the elements used during the first stage of treatment is presented without the other. However, recent reports suggest that the effect of interference training is significantly greater than the effect of contingency degradation alone (Escobar, Arcediano, & Miller, 2001;Escobar, Matute, & Miller, 2001). Note that our working definition of interference differs from other definitions of interference (e.g., Bouton, 1993) in which interference refers to both what we here call degraded contingency effects and interference effects. ...
... This assumption is supported by the observation that several manipulations performed at the time of testing can attenuate or generate interference (e.g., Spear, 1973). For example, Escobar, Matute, and Miller (2001) trained rat subjects in an interference preparation such that retrieval of a target cue was impaired. They observed that presenting a cue that was present during training of the target cue attenuated interference and similar effects were observed by placing the animal back in the environment of target training. ...
... Matute, & Miller, 2001) and humans (e.g., Matute & Pineño, 1998a, 1998bPineño, Ortega, & Matute, 2000) has shown that interference effects can occur between elementally-trained cues, that is, between cues that have never received compound training. The original finding comes from Matute and Pineño's (1998b) studies of predictive learning with humans. ...
... In this vein, elementally trained associations should be able to interfere with each other not only retroactively but also proactively. Indeed, a recent study of retroactive interference with rats by Escobar, Matute, and Miller (2001), provides some evidence of proactive interference. Escobar et al. tested not only for responding to the firstly trained cue, B, but also for responding to the secondly trained cue, A. They observed that when the secondly trained association was tested in the context in which the firstly trained association had been trained, weak responding to the secondly trained cue was obtained. ...
... In the present experiment we aimed to further assess the prediction that it is the relative activation of the associations at testing which produces interference, by testing for whether elementally trained cues are also sensitive to proactive interference. With the exception of the preliminary results with rats observed by Escobar, Matute, and Miller (2001), and the latent inhibition effect in interference between outcomes, we are not aware of this effect being previously reported in the predictive learning literature, although proactive interference in other paradigms with humans (e.g., Bennett, 1975;Brosgole, 1976) as well as with animals (e.g., Grant, 1975) is a quite well established effect (but see Crowder, 1967;Kehoe, 1963). This is important in that, if proactive interference between elementally trained cues were observed to occur in predictive learning, it would add to the growing body of literature that suggests that interference between cues (e.g., Matute & Pineño, 1998a) and between outcomes (e.g., Bouton, 1993) in predictive learning can probably be integrated into a common framework along with interference effects from other areas. ...
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The impairment in responding to a secondly trained association because of the prior training of another (i.e., proactive interference) is a well-established effect in human and animal research, and it has been demonstrated in many paradigms. However, learning theories have been concerned with proactive interference only when the competing stimuli have been presented in compound at some moment of the training phase. In this experiment we investigated the possibility of proactive interference between elementally-trained stimuli at the acquisition and at the retrieval stages in a behav-ioral task with humans. After training a cue-outcome association we observed retardation in the acquisition of an association between another cue and the same outcome. Moreover, after asymptotic acquisition of the secondly trained association, impairment of retrieval of this secondly trained association was also observed. This finding of proactive interference between elementally-trained cues suggests that interference in predictive learning and other traditional interference effects could be integrated into a common framework.
... Finally, it may be noted that the serial overshadowing effect studied here bears some similarity to another retroactive interference effect, known as retroactive cue interference (RCI), that has been reported in a number of studies using both human and rat participants (Escobar, Matute, & Miller, 2001;Matute & Pineño, 1998;Miguez, Cham, & Miller, 2012). The procedure used to produce RCI is one in which subjects first learn to associate cue X with some outcome and, in a later session, learn to associate a second cue, Y, with the same outcome. ...
... Acquisition of the second association can lead to a reduction in responding to X as compared to a control procedure in which, for example, Y is paired with a different outcome in the second stage. How RCI is best explained is still unclear, as is its relevance to the interference effects studied here given that RCI is attenuated if the common outcome is a biologically significant US (Escobar et al., 2001). Nonetheless, experimental comparisons between RCI and serial overshadowing may prove valuable in revealing common mechanisms. ...
Article
This set of experiments examined the question of when a stimulus would be most effective in overshadowing the acquisition of long-delay taste aversion learning. In Experiment 1 rats drank sucrose, the target solution, followed by a hydrochloric acid (HCl) solution before lithium injection some time later; HCl was presented either early or late in the interval. The late condition produced greater overshadowing than the early condition. The importance of the HCl-injection interval was confirmed by Experiment 2, in which the sucrose-injection interval was varied. Experiment 3 found that even placement in a different context - an event that normally produces little overshadowing of a CTA - produced one-trial overshadowing of a sucrose aversion as long as the context was novel and exposure to it occurred immediately before lithium injection. No current theoretical account of one-trial overshadowing predicts that a late event produces more overshadowing than an early event. This result can, however, be accommodated within a modified version of the Rescorla-Wagner model.
... The extinction of US-A and US-B associations (on B-US and A-US trials respectively) will mean that V COMB-A and V COMB-B would be lower than if A or B were trained alone (i.e., a form of cue interference occurs; cf. Escobar, Matute & Miller, 2001). ...
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Associative treatments of how Pavlovian conditioning affects conditioned behavior are rudimentary: A simple ordinal mapping is held to exist between the strength of an association (V) between a conditioned stimulus (CS) and an unconditioned stimulus (US; i.e., VCS-US) and conditioned behavior in a given experimental preparation. The inadequacy of this simplification is highlighted by recent studies that have taken multiple measures of conditioned behavior: Different measures of conditioned behavior provide the basis for drawing opposite conclusions about VCS-US. Here, we develop a simple model involving reciprocal associations between the CS and US (VCS-US and VUS-CS) that simulates these qualitative individual differences in conditioned behavior. The new model, HeiDI (How excitation and inhibition Determine Ideo-motion), enables a broad range of phenomena to be accommodated, which are either beyond the scope of extant models or require them to appeal to additional (learning) processes. It also provides an impetus for new lines of inquiry and generates novel predictions.
... Contingency degradation also results from exposure to stimuli (either CS or US) outside training trials (or during nontraining trials). Described at length in the respondent conditioning literature (e.g., Escobar, Arcediano, & Miller, 2001a;Escobar, Matute, & Miller, 2001b;Matute & Pineño, Matute & Pineño, 1998;Miguez, Cham, & Miller, 2012;Miguez, Laborda, & Miller, 2014), most cases of contingency degradation also have been demonstrated in autoshaping preparations. Escobar and Miller (2004) described six specific ways in which CS-US contingencies are weakened by additional exposure to stimuli alone during nontraining trials. ...
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Stimulus–stimulus pairing (SSP) is a procedure used by behavior analysis practitioners that capitalizes on respondent conditioning processes to elicit vocalizations. These procedures usually are implemented only after other, more customary methods (e.g., standard echoic training via modeling) have been exhausted. Unfortunately, SSP itself has mixed research support, probably because certain as-yet-unidentified procedural variations are more effective than others. Even when SSP produces (or increases) vocalizations, its effects can be short-lived. Although specific features of SSP differ across published accounts, fundamental characteristics include presentation of a vocal stimulus proximal with presentation of a preferred item. In the present article, we draw parallels between SSP procedures and autoshaping, review factors shown to affect autoshaping, and interpret autoshaping research for suggested SSP tests and applications. We then call for extended use and reporting of SSP in behavior-analytic treatments. Finally, three bridges created by this article are identified: basic-applied, respondent–operant, and behavior analysis with other sciences.
... As we mentioned earlier, interference is observed not only when a cue is phasically paired with two outcomes (e.g., extinction and counterconditioning following conditioning), but it is also observed when two cues are phasically associated with the same outcome. For example, Escobar et al. (2001) paired a cue with an outcome (X / O) in a first phase and subsequently paired a second cue with the same outcome (A / O) and observed impaired responding to X (relative to subjects that received A and O explicitly unpaired in phase 2), thereby providing a demonstration of retroactive outcome interference. In subsequent experiments, they showed that this retroactive interference effect could be alleviated if subjects experienced phase 1 (X / O) and phase 2 (A / O) training in different contexts and subsequently were tested in the context in which the X / O association was trained. ...
Chapter
Historically, most approaches to understanding learning and memory phenomena, particularly at the neurobiological level, have emphasized information processing that occurs during or soon after training (i.e., acquisition) as critical for observing learned changes in behavior. However, this view has been challenged by studies showing that at least part of the changes observed in behavior are due to constraints at the time of information retrieval. In this chapter, we first analyze behavioral evidence suggesting that retrieval processes, in addition to acquisition processes and storage mechanisms, are critical for observed changes in behavior due to past experience. Then we discuss theoretical approaches that emphasize retrieval processes to explain learning and memory.
... As we mentioned earlier, interference is observed not only when a cue is phasically paired with two outcomes (e.g., extinction and counterconditioning following conditioning), but it is also observed when two cues are phasically associated with the same outcome. For example, Escobar et al. (2001) paired a cue with an outcome (X / O) in a first phase and subsequently paired a second cue with the same outcome (A / O) and observed impaired responding to X (relative to subjects that received A and O explicitly unpaired in phase 2), thereby providing a demonstration of retroactive outcome interference. In subsequent experiments, they showed that this retroactive interference effect could be alleviated if subjects experienced phase 1 (X / O) and phase 2 (A / O) training in different contexts and subsequently were tested in the context in which the X / O association was trained. ...
Chapter
Historically, most approaches to understanding learning and memory phenomena, particularly at the neurobiological level, have emphasized information processing that occurs during or soon after training (i.e., acquisition) as critical for observing learned changes in behavior. However, this view has been challenged by studies showing that at least part of the changes observed in behavior are due to constraints at the time of information retrieval. In this chapter, we first analyze behavioral evidence suggesting that retrieval processes, in addition to acquisition processes and storage mechanisms, are critical for observed changes in behavior due to past experience. Then we discuss theoretical approaches that emphasize retrieval processes to explain learning and memory.
... As we mentioned earlier, interference is observed not only when a cue is phasically paired with two outcomes (e.g., extinction and counterconditioning following conditioning), but it is also observed when two cues are phasically associated with the same outcome. For example, Escobar et al. (2001) paired a cue with an outcome (X / O) in a first phase and subsequently paired a second cue with the same outcome (A / O) and observed impaired responding to X (relative to subjects that received A and O explicitly unpaired in phase 2), thereby providing a demonstration of retroactive outcome interference. In subsequent experiments, they showed that this retroactive interference effect could be alleviated if subjects experienced phase 1 (X / O) and phase 2 (A / O) training in different contexts and subsequently were tested in the context in which the X / O association was trained. ...
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Chapter
This chapter describes the potential explanatory power of a specific response rule and its implications for models of acquisition. This response rule is called the “comparator hypothesis.” It was originally inspired by Rescorla's contingency theory. Rescorla noted that if the number and frequency of conditioned stimulus–unconditioned stimulus (CS–US) pairings are held constant, unsignaled presentations of the US during training attenuate conditioned responding. This observation complemented the long recognized fact that the delivery of nonreinforced presentations of the CS during training also attenuates conditioned responding. The symmetry of the two findings prompted Rescorla to propose that during training, subjects inferred both the probability of the US in the presence of the CS and the probability of the US in the absence of the CS and they then established a CS–US association based upon a comparison of these quantities. The comparator hypothesis is a qualitative response rule, which, in principle, can complement any model of acquisition.
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