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Time and memory retrieval in the interference paradigms of Pavlovian learning

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Abstract

In this article I review research and theory on the "interference paradigms" in Pavlovian learning. In these situations (e.g., extinction, counterconditioning, and latent inhibition), a conditioned stimulus (CS) is associated with different unconditioned stimuli (USs) or outcomes in different phases of the experiment; retroactive interference, proactive interference, or both are often observed. In all of the paradigms, contextual stimuli influence performance, and when information is available, so does the passage of time. Memories of both phases are retained, and performance may depend on which is retrieved. Despite the similarity of the paradigms, conditioning theories tend to explain them with separate mechanisms. They also do not provide an adequate account of the context's role, fail to predict the effects of time, and overemphasize the role of learning or storage deficits. By accepting 4 propositions about animal memory (i.e., contextual stimuli guide retrieval, time is a context, different memories are differentially dependent on context, and interference occurs at performance output), a memory retrieval framework can provide an integrated account of context, time, and performance in the various paradigms.

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... One of the primary Pavlovian experimental designs investigating ambiguous CS/US associations is occasion setting [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8], in which one stimulus (i.e., the occasion setter) indicates whether an ambiguous CS will result in the US. For example, perhaps a specific child is usually talkative during dinner, but the parent is interested in figuring out which situations lead the child to be quiet during dinner. ...
... Thus, only stimuli that are ambiguous and trained with an occasion setter can be affected by an occasion setter of the same type. Furthermore, while we are not the first to posit stimulus ambiguity as being a requirement of occasion setting [1,[3][4][5]30] or to experimentally assess it [31], we are the first to extend it to 2 nd -order occasion setting, investigate its robustness across learning hierarchies, and to create a theoretical and computational model operationalizing CS ambiguity and 1 st -order occasion setter ambiguity. The data from the present experiments supports our computational model and its unique approach to operationalizing CS ambiguity (i.e., CS ambiguity = direct excitation � direct inhibition) and 1 st -order occasion setter ambiguity (i.e., 1 st -order occasion setter ambiguity = 1 storder positive occasion setting � 1 st -order negative occasion setting) as a requirement of higher-order learning. ...
... In both experiments, we found strong transfer when expected. Additionally, our model theoretically claims that mixed CS/US reinforcement will lead to broadening of attention to other situational factors, contexts, or stimuli to disambiguate whether the CS will predict the US on a given trial (i.e., γ1; [3,5,34,35]); we theorize the same for 1 st -order occasion setters when they send mixed modulatory signals of CS/US reinforcement (i.e., γ2). Thus, our model posits when a search for 1 st -or 2 nd -order occasion setters will begin, but it is less clear when the search will end. ...
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In the natural world, stimulus-outcome associations are often ambiguous, and most associations are highly complex and situation-dependent. Learning to disambiguate these complex associations to identify which specific outcomes will occur in which situations is critical for survival. Pavlovian occasion setters are stimuli that determine whether other stimuli will result in a specific outcome. Occasion setting is a well-established phenomenon, but very little investigation has been conducted on how occasion setters are disambiguated when they themselves are ambiguous (i.e., when they do not consistently signal whether another stimulus will be reinforced). In two preregistered studies, we investigated the role of higher-order Pavlovian occasion setting in humans. We developed and tested the first computational model predicting direct associative learning, traditional occasion setting (i.e., 1 st -order occasion setting), and 2 nd -order occasion setting. This model operationalizes stimulus ambiguity as a mechanism to engage in higher-order Pavlovian learning. Both behavioral and computational modeling results suggest that 2 nd -order occasion setting was learned, as evidenced by lack and presence of transfer of occasion setting properties when expected and the superior fit of our 2 nd -order occasion setting model compared to the 1 st -order occasion setting or direct associations models. These results provide a controlled investigation into highly complex associative learning and may ultimately lead to improvements in the treatment of Pavlovian-based mental health disorders (e.g., anxiety disorders, substance use).
... Aunque estos modelos muestran una explicación plausible del aprendizaje del consumidor, se debe tener en cuenta que en la vida cotidiana las personas se exponen a situaciones en las que la predicción de las asociaciones clave-resultado ocurre en un escenario estimular de trasfondo, al que se ha denominado tradicionalmente contexto. El estudio de las condiciones y los mecanismos a través de los que el contexto controla la ejecución de los organismos ha atraído la atención de un grupo numeroso de investigadores del ámbito del aprendizaje asociativo (e.g., Bouton, 1993;Bouton et al., 1999;Riccio et al., 1984;Spear & Riccio, 1994). La definición más generalizada del aprendizaje es la que define el contexto como todo aquello que nos rodea (Smith, 2007). ...
... Desde el punto de vista del aprendizaje asociativo y del consumo, se asume que el contexto incluye los estímulos externos e internos proporcionados por la situación experimental que rodean a las claves sobre las cuales el organismo tiene que realizar un aprendizaje . Los eventos externos se definen como estímulos físicos; por ejemplo, el aparato o la habitación donde tiene lugar el aprendizaje (e.g., Bouton, 1993), o el lugar para comer y la elección de alimentos (e.g., King et al., 2004). Entre los eventos internos se incluyen los estímulos cognitivos (representaciones internas) tales como imágenes de tiendas (e.g., Berkowitz & Walton, 1980;Yoon et al., 2014), nombres de la marca (e.g., Janiszewski & Warlop, 1993), imágenes de marcas desconocidas o conocidas (e.g., Shimp, 1991), imágenes de restaurantes ficticios (e.g., Rosas & Callejas-Aguilera, 2006), y, por supuesto, los estímulos emocionales como los estados de ánimo (e.g., Eich, 1995). ...
... A partir del interés en el estudio del contexto, en las últimas décadas han surgido diferentes modelos teóricos que tratan de explicar cómo el contexto afecta el aprendizaje, como es el caso de la Teoría de la Recuperación de la Información -TRI (Bouton, 1993(Bouton, , 1994 y la hipótesis de comparador en consumidor (Hoch & Deighton, 1989). De acuerdo con la TRI, propuesta por Bouton (1993), la principal función del contexto es la de resolver la situación de ambigüedad en el significado de las claves. ...
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The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of changing the context in which a product with different discount values has been associated with purchase prediction. Participants were trained in a learning task where they had to predict the probability of a result (purchase of a product) based on different images (products), presented in different contexts (stores). In store A, product X associated with different discount values (50%, 30%, 0%) and the product Z associated with a constant discount (30%) were presented. In store B, product Y was presented without discount (0%). Control products without discount were presented in each context (F1 and F2). The results indicate that the differential discount value is context dependent, which means that the probability of purchase is greater when the product with a variable discount is presented in the same store where the association with multiple discounts was previously learned. This effect was less with the product with constant discount and was not observed in the product without discount. The implications of these findings are discussed considering the effectiveness of discount promotional strategies in stores.
... Owing to the nature of their experimental procedures, both forward and backward blocking can in principle be influenced by mechanisms that produce interference between cues trained apart with a common outcome as well as by mechanisms that underlie competition between cues trained in compound. Critically, associative interference is known to be modulated, in part, by the test context's relative similarity to the context of target training and the context of interference training (e.g., Bouton, 1993;Miller & Escobar, 2002), a property that has no place in "pure" cue competition (e.g., overshadowing) because the compound training of cues in a pure cue competition procedure necessitates that the two cues be trained in the same spatiotemporal context. We used a [spatial] context-shift design to manipulate a mechanism that presumably operates exclusively in interference phenomena, and we contrasted its renewal-like effect, on a backward blocked cue and a cue that was subject to retroactive interference in Experiment 1 (embedded in a sensory preconditioning design), and on a forward blocked cue and a cue that was subject to proactive interference in Experiment 2 (conducted in first-order conditioning). ...
... Moreover, the renewal procedure following retroactive outcome interference can readily applied to proactive outcome interference, although the procedure is expected to yield reversed effects on behavior than are seen with retroactive interference (see the introduction to Experiment 2 for a discussion of the expected differences in the behavioral consequences of renewal following retroactive and proactive interference). The most widely cited account of renewal as seen following outcome interference is that at test the cue potentially activates (or retrieves) representations of the target and nontarget outcomes, with the test context modulating which memory is better activated and hence expressed (e.g., Bouton, 1993). However, this account does not readily apply to cue interference (with "cue interference" referring to when a target cue has been paired with an outcome and separately a nontarget cue has been paired with the same outcome). ...
... In contrast to Bouton's (1993) account of renewal following associative interference which does not anticipate cue interference, published reports of cue interference and renewal-like effects following cue interference tell us that we need either an account of cue interference independent of that for outcome interference, or we need a different account of associative interference and renewal-like effects following it that applies to both outcome and cue interference. Miller and Escobar (2002) have provided the latter type of account. ...
Article
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Blocking (i.e., reduced responding to cue X following YX-outcome pairings in Phase 2 as a consequence of cue Y having been paired with the outcome in Phase 1) is one of the signature phenomena in Pavlovian conditioning. Its discovery promoted the development of multiple associative models, most of which viewed blocking as an instance of pure cue competition (i.e., a decrease in responding attributable to training two conditioned stimuli in compound). Two experiments are reported in which rats were examined in a fear conditioning paradigm (i.e., lick suppression), and context dependency of retrieval at test was used as an index of associative cue interference (i.e., a decrease in responding to a target cue as a result of training a second cue with the same outcome but without concurrent presentation of the two cues). Specifically, we observed renewal of forward-blocking which parallels renewal of proactive interference, and renewal of backward-blocking which parallels renewal of retroactive interference. Thus, both backward-blocking (Experiment 1, embedded in a sensory preconditioning design) and forward-blocking (Experiment 2, conducted in first-order conditioning) appear to be influenced by retroactive and proactive interference, respectively, as well as cue competition. Consequently, blocking, long regarded as a benchmark example of pure cue competition, is sometimes a hybrid of cue competition and associative interference. Finally, the Discussion considers whether stimulus competition and associative interference are two independent phenomena or products of a single underlying process. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... The present results do not show a memory integration of the when element required for an ELM task. However, they are consistent with some memory models, the TWR for foraging situations (Devenport & Devenport, 1994), and Bouton's (1993Bouton's ( , 1994 retroactive interference model. ...
... A complementary explanation of the present results could emerge from Bouton's (1993) retroactive interference theory. This theory supposes that, when two successive learning experiences are contradictory or ambiguous, if the physical or temporal context of the second learning at the test is the same, we would observe a recency effect where the most recent learning interferes with the initial learning. ...
Article
Episodic-like memory (ELM) involves remembering the what, where, and when (WWW) of an event as a whole, and it can be studied behaviorally. In research regarding this type of memory with children, one experiment proposes a new task adapted from animal foraging studies. A task derived from a foraging model was presented its considers the characteristics required for ELM study in children and employs a single trial presented from an egocentric perspective to avoid memory consolidation. One study compared four-year-old children's choices after being trained with one or three trials using a hide-and-seek task. The consequence size and retention interval between training and test were manipulated. Results showed that children chose the optimal outcome after an immediate or delayed test. The children's choices were conditional on the size of the consequences and the time at retrieval according to the Temporal Weighting Rule (Devenport & Devenport, 1994). The results were similar to those of animal studies and were consistent with a foraging memory model. In discussion, the advantages and limitations of the proposed task for the study of ELM in children are described and explained. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... On the other hand, the Retrieval models predict that the CS-US association will be acquired during the conditioning phase, but the CS preexposure will interfere in the performance CS-US association, giving a failure in memory retrieval. In addition, this interference is modulated by the context so, if the CS preexposure takes place in a different context than conditioning context, this interference does not happen and the memory of the CS-US association is recovered (e.g., Bouton 1993;Miller et al. 1986;Escobar and Miller 2010;Schmajuk et al. 1996;Weiner 1990; see Lubow and Weiner 2010 for a review). ...
... According to the literature, several studies about the context effect in learning phenomena suggest that the association between the context and the US is not enough to explain the phenomenon. For example, a conditioned suppression study showed that an association between the context and the US is not necessary for the influence of the context over the CS performance to occur (see Bouton andKing 1983, 1986). However, our study was not specifically designed to evaluate which of these models better explains the present results. ...
Article
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The present study was conducted to assess the context specificity of latent inhibition (LI) in the snail Cornu aspersum , using the appetitive Pavlovian Conditioning procedure of tentacle lowering. Snails experienced an odorous conditioned stimulus (CS) without any consequence before being conditioned with food. The conditioned stimulus preexposure occurred in the same context than the conditioning and the test context or in the different context. The study was performed in two replicas in which the photoperiod was defined by level of illumination and time of day (circadian replica) or was defined only by light (light replica). Both replicas showed that the CS preexposure in the same context as conditioning produced a delay in the acquisition of the conditioned response (CR). However, when the CS preexposure took place in a different context than the conditioning context, an equivalent level of CR as that observed in controls without preexposition to CS was shown. These results are congruent with context specificity of LI and they provide the first evidence of this phenomenon in terrestrial mollusks. Learning processes and theories involved in this phenomenon are also debated in the paper.
... However, a novel theoretical framework known as the Inhibitory Learning Model (Craske et al., 2008) specifies individuals are not unlearning the original fear association during exposure therapy, but rather building new, safety (i. e., inhibitory) learning that competes with the old learning (Bouton, 1993). The old fear learning remains intact and retrievable following exposure, which can be problematic for maintaining treatment gains (Bouton, 1993). ...
... e., inhibitory) learning that competes with the old learning (Bouton, 1993). The old fear learning remains intact and retrievable following exposure, which can be problematic for maintaining treatment gains (Bouton, 1993). For example, the phenomenon known as the "return of fear" (Rachman, 1979) refers to the resurgence of fear from post-exposure to follow-up and is thought to occur when the original fear association is uncovered and/or reinforced (Stewart & Craske, 2020). ...
Article
Background and objectives Although exposure therapy is an efficacious treatment for anxiety disorders, fear often returns after treatment. From an inhibitory learning perspective, long-term improvement depends not only on learning that feared stimuli are safe, but also that it is safe to experience the emotional response triggered by these stimuli. Accordingly, the current study examined the effects of occasional threat reinforcement during repeated exposure to multiple cues on the return of fear in snake phobia by incorporating reminders of the feared outcome. Methods Snake fearful community adults (N = 74) were randomized to either repeated exposure to multiple cues or exposure to multiple cues that also explicitly depicted the feared outcome (snake biting someone). A measure of self-reported threat expectancy and a threat-relevant behavioral approach task (BAT) were administered pre-exposure, post-exposure, and at a one-week follow-up. Results Compared to the multiple-cue exposure group, the multiple-cue + fear-outcome group showed significantly less subjective expectancy for a snake to bite and increased behavioral approach of snake images at one-week follow-up. The fear-outcome group also reported significantly greater variability in distress during exposure than the multiple-cue exposure group and this difference mediated the intervention effect on behavioral approach at follow-up. Limitations Findings are limited by the use of videos as an analogue to exposure and a computer-delivered BAT. Conclusions These findings suggest presentation of the feared outcome may result in more variability in distress during exposure therapy and this may partially explain the maintenance of behavioral gains.
... Extinction of an acquired fear response is essential to adaptive emotional responding and resilience across species. According to inhibitory learning models of Pavlovian extinction, memory of the conditional stimulus (CS)/unconditional stimulus (US) association is not erased during extinction, but rather a new inhibitory CS/no US association is learned that competes with the original CS/US association (Bouton, 1993). Individuals with anxiety disorders demonstrate deficits in extinction learning (Duits et al., 2015;Lissek et al., 2005), possibly rendering them more Creative Commons Non Commercial CC BY-NC: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) ...
... Our finding that extinction rate is relatively nonpredictive of long-term fear is neither supportive nor unsupportive of two major models of exposure therapy: the inhibitory learning model (Craske et al., 2014(Craske et al., , 2022 and the habituation model (Foa & Kozak, 1986). The inhibitory learning model argues that elevated US expectancy during exposure will result in greater prediction error that generates competing CS-noUS associations, albeit contextually specific (Bouton, 1993;Rescorla & Wagner, 1972), whereas the habituation model argues that fear reduction during exposure will result in greater long-term fear reduction. Thus, the inhibitory model favors elevated US expectancy during exposure (which often slows fear reduction, thus creating slower extinction rate but is not theoretically reliant upon fear levels), whereas the habituation model favors fear reduction during exposure (i.e., faster extinction rate). ...
Article
In rodent studies, faster extinction rate has been shown to predict less long-term fear. However, this has scarcely been studied in humans. The present report investigated the association between extinction rate and long-term fear in humans. We secondarily evaluated specificity of extinction rate by including other fear conditioning values as predictors, including acquisition intercept, acquisition rate, and extinction intercept. Lastly, we investigated whether trait measures of behavioral approach, behavioral inhibition, anxiety, and depression predicted long-term fear. Results show that slower extinction rate predicted less long-term fear when tested alone in the model. However, when including other fear conditioning variables, extinction rate no longer predicted long-term fear. Instead, greater fear at the beginning of acquisition was the most robust predictor of greater long-term fear (all three measures of fear), followed by greater fear at the beginning of extinction (unconditional stimulus expectancy only). These effects occurred for both the danger signal (i.e., conditional stimulus; CS+) and safety signal (i.e., CS−). The results suggest that fear at the start of acquisition and, secondarily, extinction are predictors of long-term fear. Lastly, there were no effects of trait behavioral approach, behavioral inhibition, anxiety, or depression. This report has relevance for improving our understanding and treatment of anxiety disorders.
... The present results do not show a memory integration of the when element required for an ELM task. However, they are consistent with some memory models, the TWR for foraging situations (Devenport & Devenport, 1994), and Bouton's (1993Bouton's ( , 1994 retroactive interference model. ...
... A complementary explanation of the present results could emerge from Bouton's (1993) retroactive interference theory. This theory supposes that, when two successive learning experiences are contradictory or ambiguous, if the physical or temporal context of the second learning at the test is the same, we would observe a recency effect where the most recent learning interferes with the initial learning. ...
Article
Reports an error in "Can we study episodic-like memory in preschoolers from an animal foraging model" by Javier Vila, Eneida Strempler-Rubio and Angélica Alvarado (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, 2021[Jul], Vol 47[3], 357-363). In the original article, a repeated measure analysis of variance was calculated with incorrect numerator and denominator degrees of freedom, which resulted in incorrect F, MSE, and R² values being reported in the Results section. When calculated correctly, the significant differences found in the new analysis of variance were the same as before. The results and conclusions are unchanged. The online version of this article has been corrected. (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2021-92066-011). Episodic-like memory (ELM) involves remembering the what, where, and when (WWW) of an event as a whole, and it can be studied behaviorally. In research regarding this type of memory with children, one experiment proposes a new task adapted from animal foraging studies. A task derived from a foraging model was presented its considers the characteristics required for ELM study in children and employs a single trial presented from an egocentric perspective to avoid memory consolidation. One study compared four-year-old children's choices after being trained with one or three trials using a hide-and-seek task. The consequence size and retention interval between training and test were manipulated. Results showed that children chose the optimal outcome after an immediate or delayed test. The children's choices were conditional on the size of the consequences and the time at retrieval according to the Temporal Weighting Rule (Devenport & Devenport, 1994). The results were similar to those of animal studies and were consistent with a foraging memory model. In discussion, the advantages and limitations of the proposed task for the study of ELM in children are described and explained. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... memory representation is created (CS → no US) that competes with and inhibits the original CS → US memory representation (Bouton, 2002). This results in an ambiguous meaning of the CS after extinction: The CS now predicts both the occurrence and the nonoccurrence of the US (Bouton, 1993). The CS → US trace is inhibited but can easily win the retrieval competition under certain circumstances, which leads to return of fear (i.e., relapse). ...
Article
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Anxiety disorders are effectively treated with exposure therapy, but relapse remains high. Fear may reinstate after reoccurrence of the negative event because the expectancy of the aversive outcome (unconditioned stimulus [US]) is adjusted but not its evaluation. Imagery rescripting (ImRs) is an intervention that is proposed to work through revaluation of the US. The aim of our preregistered study was to test the effects of ImRs and extinction on US expectancy and US revaluation. Day 1 ( n = 106) consisted of acquisition with an aversive film clip as US. The manipulation (ImRs + extinction, extinction-only, or ImRs-only) took place on Day 2. Reinstatement of fear was tested on Day 3. Results showed expectancy learning in both extinction conditions but not in the ImRs-only condition and no enhanced revaluation learning in ImRs. The combination of ImRs and extinction slowed down extinction but did not protect against reinstatement, which pleads in favor of stand-alone interventions in clinical practice.
... Inhibitory learning is defined as the extinction of a behavioral response through repeated presentations of a conditioned stimulus (CS) in the absence of an unconditioned stimulus (US, CS-noUS). As part of the inhibitory learning model, Craske et al. (2008) propose that the crux of exposure therapy is the development of new inhibitory nonthreat associations (CS-noUS) that compete with existing fear responses (CS-US, e.g., cognitions, avoidance, physiological reactions, Bouton, 1993). One approach proposed to optimize inhibitory learning during exposure is called expectancy violation (CS-noUS, Rescorla & Wagner, 1972). ...
Article
Maximizing the discrepancy between expected and actual outcomes during exposure (i.e., expectancy violation) is thought to optimize inhibitory learning. The current study examined Craske et al.’s suggestion that engaging in cognitive restructuring (CR) before exposure prematurely reduces expectancy and mitigates outcomes. Participants ( N = 93) with claustrophobia were randomly assigned to either 15 minutes of CR before exposure ( CR Before) or 15 minutes of CR after exposure ( CR After). Although the CR Before condition experienced greater expectancy reduction before exposure than the CR After condition, both groups experienced similar overall expectancy reduction by the end of the intervention. Groups experienced similar gains, with large significant improvement at posttreatment and follow-up. Results suggest that both cognitive therapy and exposure therapy lead to expectancy reduction, but that the order of these interventions does not impact outcome. Clinicaltrials.org registration #NCT03628105.
... Ideas about the optimal schedule of exposure in vivo could also follow from the inhibitory learning theory it is based upon (Bouton, 1993;Craske et al., 2008). This theory poses that the threat association of a conditioned stimulus (CS) is not erased during extinction but it remains present next to a new, non-threat association. ...
Article
Background Since the introduction of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), researchers are searching for the optimum schedule of sessions to maximize the effectiveness. In the last decades, intensive treatments - multiple long sessions in a few weeks - became popular in patients with anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, it is still unknown whether intensive CBT is superior to regular CBT (short weekly sessions for several months). Methods This meta-analysis examined whether intensive CBT is superior to regular CBT in patients with anxiety disorders and OCD in reducing anxiety, obsessivecompulsive (OC) and comorbid depressive symptoms, and in reducing dropout. A systematic literature search was performed in PubMed, PsycINFO and Embase in which words indicative of an anxiety disorder or OCD were combined with intensive treatment and CBT. Results We identified 5012 unique studies. Two randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and four non-RCTs were included, pertaining to 393 subjects. Intensive CBT and regular CBT did not statistically differ in reducing anxiety or OC symptoms from pre- to post-treatment and from post-treatment to follow-up. However, intensive CBT was significantly better in reducing depressive symptoms from pre- to post-treatment (g=0.25; 95% CI: (0.04, 0.45)). Dropout was only reported in two studies and could thus not be meta-analysed. Limitations The included studies were limited in number and quality. Conclusions High-quality RCTs are needed to assess both effectivity and feasibility of intensive CBT. Meanwhile, intensive CBT might be preferable for patients with comorbid depression or for those needing fast improvement, due to its shorter lead time.
... Based on this model, there is no theoretical reason why the positively valanced CS-US association would have to significantly reduce fear responses in order to contradict a new fear-evoking CS-US association. Given that both learned associations exist in parallel (Bouton & King, 1983;Bouton, 1993;Craske et al., 2015), their relative 'strength' may not need to be matched. ...
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Fear of specific stimuli is thought to develop through associative learning mechanisms and research indicates that a form of observational (vicarious) learning known as positive modelling can counter these effects. This systematic review examined and synthesised the experimental positive modelling literature to establish its efficacy for reducing fear. Psych Info, Medline and the Psychology and Behavioural Science Collection databases were systematically searched until August 2021. Of the 1,677 papers identified, 18 experiments across 14 articles met the inclusion criteria. In the majority of these, positive modelling was found to lower fear levels in one or more of three procedures: fear prevention, fear reduction and fear reversal. Procedures inform prevention and treatment initiatives for specific phobias in several ways. The overall efficacy of positive modelling techniques and the ease in which they can be implemented highlight the importance of further research to evaluate their inclusion in prevention and treatment interventions. More research is required to establish the longevity and transferability of positive modelling.
... Context can shape our decisions and our recall processes (Godden and Baddeley, 1975;Smith, 1979;Smith et al., 2004;Robin et al., 2018;de Voogd et al., 2020), and has been shown to be an important first step in processing and rebuilding of episodic memories, helping to streamline object representations (Manns and Eichenbaum, 2009;McKenzie et al., 2014;Libby et al., 2019), and has a role in the determination of motivation and valuation of actions and items (Zeithamova et al., 2018). Context includes external information and internal states (Spear, 1973;Bouton, 1993;Rudy et al., 2004;Maren et al., 2013). In laboratory observations of contextual learning, the external components collected by sensory systems such as visual information (e.g., a color of paint on the wall of a room, dark or brightness of light), odor, sound, and touch (e.g., texture of a floor) contribute to the formation of spatial-contextual information for animals. ...
Article
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Contextual learning is a critical component of episodic memory and important for living in any environment. Context can be described as the attributes of a location that are not the location itself. This includes a variety of non-spatial information that can be derived from sensory systems (sounds, smells, lighting, etc.) and internal state. In this review, we first address the behavioral underpinnings of contextual memory and the development of context memory theory, with a particular focus on the contextual fear conditioning paradigm as a means of assessing contextual learning and the underlying processes contributing to it. We then present the various neural centers that play roles in contextual learning. We continue with a discussion of the current knowledge of the neural circuitry and physiological processes that underlie contextual representations in the Entorhinal cortex-Hippocampal (EC-HPC) circuit, as the most well studied contributor to contextual memory, focusing on the role of ensemble activity as a representation of context with a description of remapping, and pattern separation and completion in the processing of contextual information. We then discuss other critical regions involved in contextual memory formation and retrieval. We finally consider the engram assembly as an indicator of stored contextual memories and discuss its potential contribution to contextual memory.
... Consequently, animals learn that the CS no longer predicts the US, and this leads to a reduction in the frequency and vigor of conditioned responses. But the suppression of conditional responding after extinction is labile: CRs return under several conditions (Bouton, 1993;Bouton et al., 2006Bouton et al., , 2021. For example, the mere passage of time leads to spontaneous recovery of extinguished CRs and presenting an extinguished CS outside the extinction context leads to a renewal of conditional responding. ...
Article
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Therapeutic interventions for disorders of fear and anxiety rely on behavioral approaches that reduce pathological fear memories. For example, learning that threat-predictive stimuli are no longer associated with aversive outcomes is central to the extinction of conditioned fear responses. Unfortunately, fear memories are durable, long-lasting, and resistant to extinction, particularly under high levels of stress. This is illustrated by the “immediate extinction deficit,” which is characterized by a poor long-term reduction of conditioned fear when extinction procedures are attempted within hours of fear conditioning. Here, I will review recent work that has provided new insight into the neural mechanisms underlying resistance to fear extinction. Emerging studies reveal that locus coeruleus norepinephrine modulates amygdala-prefrontal cortical circuits that are critical for extinction learning. These data suggest that stress-induced activation of brain neuromodulatory systems biases fear memory at the expense of extinction learning. Behavioral and pharmacological strategies to reduce stress in patients undergoing exposure therapy might improve therapeutic outcomes.
... Fifth, changing contexts from day 1 (laboratory) to day 2 (MRI scanner) can be a limitation as context is known to modulate fear extinction responses (Bouton 1993(Bouton , 2002. Future studies should conduct all sessions in the same context or control for the change of context with additional experimental arms. ...
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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been studied to enhance extinction-based treatments for anxiety disorders. However, the field shows conflicting results about its anxiolytic effect and only a few studies have observed the extinction of consolidated memories. We looked to study the effect of offline 1 mA tDCS over the right dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex across the fear pathways, in consolidated fear response during delayed extinction. Participants (N = 34 women) underwent in a two-day fear conditioning procedure. On day 1, participants were assigned to the control group (N = 18) or the tDCS group (N = 16) and went through a fear acquisition procedure. On day 2, the tDCS group received 20 min tDCS before extinction and while inside the MRI scanner. The control group completed the extinction procedure only. The tDCS session (for the tDCS group) and the fMRI scan (for both groups) were completed just on the second day. Univariate fMRI analysis showed stimulation-dependent activity during late extinction with the tDCS group showing decreased neural activity during the processing of threat cues (CS +) and increased activity during the processing of safety cues (CS −), in prefrontal, postcentral and paracentral regions, during late extinction. ROI to whole-brain psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analysis showed the tDCS effect on the connectivity between the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex three cortical-amygdalo-hippocam-pal-cerebellar pathway clusters during the processing of the CS + in late extinction (TFCE corrected; p < 0.05). Increased neuronal activity during the processing of safety cues and stronger coupling during the processing of threat cues might be the mechanisms by which tDCS contributes to stimuli discrimination.
... Why do these methods prevent relapse? It is said that extinction does not completely erase learning, but rather preserves the original learning after extinction (e.g., Bouton, 1993;Kehoe & Macrae, 1997;Pavlov, 1927). It is also said that rapid reacquisition occurs when the US is presented because the original learning is preserved (e.g., Kehoe, 1988). ...
Article
Two experiments were conducted to examine whether using e-cigarettes with occasional use of regular cigarettes prevented relapse after extinction. In Experiment 1 (ABAC with a multiple-baseline design), six short-term smokers who wanted to stop smoking were asked to use e-cigarettes and were allowed to smoke 20 % of the usual number of regular cigarettes per day during the partial reinforcement period. Experiment 1 demonstrated that using e-cigarettes reduced the amount of smoking even after extinction. In Experiment 2 (ABAB design), which involved a single long-time smoker and partial reinforcement, the participant was unable to maintain low rates of smoking after the experiment. However, the excessive smoking (regular cigarettes > 15 per day) observed before the experiment was prevented. This study suggested that a partial reinforcement procedure (occasionally smoking cigarettes) prevented relapse after extinction without hardship in some smokers.
... We modeled context in our study by the simplest possible implementation: a discrete cue that signals distinct task states with separate stimulus-outcome associations for subsequently presented stimuli [57,58]. In general, the term "context" can refer to any circumstance that changes the meaning of a specific target stimulus [59], as illustrated by the behavior of our subjects in emitting a different response (lick, no-lick) to a given target cue depending on the identity of the preceding context cue. However, this definition does not specify the particular process or mechanism through which the context cue comes to modify the response to the target. ...
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Neural activity in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) is thought to track fundamentally value-centric quantities linked to reward and effort. However, the NAc also contributes to flexible behavior in ways that are difficult to explain based on value signals alone, raising the question of if and how nonvalue signals are encoded in NAc. We recorded NAc neural ensembles while head-fixed mice performed an odor-based biconditional discrimination task where an initial discrete cue modulated the behavioral significance of a subsequently presented reward-predictive cue. We extracted single-unit and population-level correlates related to the cues and found value-independent coding for the initial, context-setting cue. This context signal occupied a population-level coding space orthogonal to outcome-related representations and was predictive of subsequent behaviorally relevant responses to the reward-predictive cues. Together, these findings support a gating model for how the NAc contributes to behavioral flexibility and provide a novel population-level perspective from which to view NAc computations.
... Limitation on memory capacities could also play a role in tactic constancy. When animals must learn two motor routines in succession, memory of one sometimes inhibits learning and performance of the other, which is called an interference effect (Bouton, 1993;Dukas, 1995;Bond and Kamil, 1999). For example, even if pollinators can successfully store more than two flower handling motor routines in their long-term memory, retrieving those memories for behavioral execution might be interfered with switching from one motor routine to another (Chittka et al., 1999). ...
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Animals foraging from flowers must assess their environment and make critical decisions about which patches, plants, and flowers to exploit to obtain limiting resources. The cognitive ecology of plant-pollinator interactions explores not only the complex nature of pollinator foraging behavior and decision making, but also how cognition shapes pollination and plant fitness. Floral visitors sometimes depart from what we think of as typical pollinator behavior and instead exploit floral resources by robbing nectar (bypassing the floral opening and instead consuming nectar through holes or perforations made in floral tissue). The impacts of nectar robbing on plant fitness are well-studied; however, there is considerably less understanding, from the animal’s perspective, about the cognitive processes underlying nectar robbing. Examining nectar robbing from the standpoint of animal cognition is important for understanding the evolution of this behavior and its ecological and evolutionary consequences. In this review, we draw on central concepts of foraging ecology and animal cognition to consider nectar robbing behavior either when individuals use robbing as their only foraging strategy or when they switch between robbing and legitimate foraging. We discuss sensory and cognitive biases, learning, and the role of a variable environment in making decisions about robbing vs. foraging legitimately. We also discuss ways in which an understanding of the cognitive processes involved in nectar robbing can address questions about how plant-robber interactions affect patterns of natural selection and floral evolution. We conclude by highlighting future research directions on the sensory and cognitive ecology of nectar robbing.
... These stimuli may interfere with memory through different mechanisms. First, extinction is the re-exposure of CS+ and CS− of the original learning without the US and has been considered to be one kind of retroactive interference (Bouton, 1993). It may interfere with memory by creating an opposing memory (Felsenberg et al., 2018). ...
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Age‐related memory impairment (AMI) is a common phenomenon across species. Vulnerability to interfering stimuli has been proposed to be an important cause of AMI. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this vulnerability‐related AMI remain unknown. Here we show that learning‐activated MAPK signals are gradually lost with age, leading to vulnerability‐related AMI in Drosophila. Young flies (2‐ or 3‐day‐old) exhibited a significant increase in phosphorylated MAPK levels within 15 min after learning, whereas aged flies (25‐day‐old) did not. Compared to 3‐day‐old flies, significant 1 h memory impairments were observed in 15‐, 20‐, and 30‐day‐old flies, but not in 10‐day‐old flies. However, with post‐learning interfering stimuli such as cooling or electric stimuli, 10‐day‐old flies had worse memory performance at 1 h than 3‐day‐old flies, showing a premature AMI phenomenon. Increasing learning‐activated MAPK signals through acute transgene expression in mushroom body (MB) neurons restored physiological trace of 1 h memory in a pair of MB output neurons in aged flies. Decreasing such signals in young flies mimicked the impairment of 1 h memory trace in aged flies. Restoring learning‐activated MAPK signals in MB neurons in aged flies significantly suppressed AMI even with interfering stimuli. Thus, our data suggest that age‐related loss of learning‐activated neuronal MAPK signals causes memory vulnerability to interfering stimuli, thereby leading to AMI. Learning‐activated MAPK signals are reported to protect labile memory in Drosophila. Such protective signals are gradually lost with age, making labile memory more vulnerable to interfering stimuli, which can lead to age‐related memory impairment (AMI). Acutely restoring learning‐activated MAPK signals in mushroom body neurons in aged flies significantly suppresses AMI even with interfering stimuli.
... A primary area of inhibitory learning is extinction, where a new inhibitory memory is acquired to compete against a previously established excitatory memory. Importantly, extinction is not an erasure of a memory, but rather a competition of parallel associations, where old memories/behaviors can spontaneously renew (Bouton, 1993;Todd et al., 2014;Bouton et al., 2021). A deficit in the formation of the new inhibitory association or a failure of this association to successfully compete with the excitatory association, could result in altered impulsivity in classic tests of impulsive action. ...
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Impulsivity generally refers to a deficit in inhibition, with a focus on understanding the neural circuits which constitute the “brake” on actions and gratification. It is likely that increased impulsivity can arise not only from reduced inhibition, but also from a heightened or exaggerated excitatory “drive.” For example, an action which has more vigor, or is fueled by either increased incentive salience or a stronger action-outcome association, may be harder to inhibit. From this perspective, this review focuses on impulse control as a competition over behavioral output between an initially learned response-reward outcome association, and a subsequently acquired opposing inhibitory association. Our goal is to present a synthesis of research from humans and animal models that supports this dual-systems approach to understanding the behavioral and neural substrates that contribute to impulsivity, with a focus on the neuromodulatory role of serotonin. We review evidence for the role of serotonin signaling in mediating the balance of the “drive” and “brake” circuits. Additionally, we consider parallels of these competing instrumental systems in impulsivity within classical conditioning processes (e.g., extinction) in order to point us to potential behavioral and neural mechanisms that may modulate the competing instrumental associations. Finally, we consider how the balance of these competing associations might contribute to, or be extracted from, our experimental assessments of impulsivity. A careful understanding of the underlying behavioral and circuit level contributions to impulsivity is important for understanding the pathogenesis of increased impulsivity present in a number of psychiatric disorders. Pathological levels of impulsivity in such disorders are likely subserved by deficits in the balance of motivational and inhibitory processes.
... If corroborated in a clinical population, our findings have the potential to add to advances in the development of cognitive-behavioral interventions, for example by maximizing the violation of dysfunctional expectations (Rief & Joormann, 2019) or by increasing the salience of an expectation-disconfirming experience (Craske et al., 2014). Such interventions might be most effective in vivo using so-called ecological momentary interventions (Colombo et al., 2019) given that findings on exposure therapy for anxiety disorders show a renewal of conditional fear if surrounding contexts are changed (Bouton, 1993). Another potential treatment approach would be to target the rigidity of negative interpersonal expectations by providing information that reduces the impact of cognitive immunization (Kube et al., 2019a), although it must be noted that the effect of cognitive immunization is subject to debate, as a recent study failed to demonstrate an effect of cognitive immunization on expectation updating in a non-clinical sample (Kube & Glombiewski, 2022). ...
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Dysfunctional expectations and interpersonal problems are associated with depression, so we measured expected emotions towards interaction partners and compared them with actual emotions. We hypothesized that, between persons, individuals with higher subclinical depression would display stronger, more stable, and less accurate negative expectations. Within persons, we hypothesized that momentary negative expectations would predict subsequent negative affect. Fifty-three students completed 6 days of Experience Sampling, consisting of one morning expectation-assessment (9 am), three assessments on actual interpersonal emotions (1 pm, 5 pm, 9 pm), and six random affect-assessments. We regressed expected emotions, experienced emotions, expectation fluctuations, and expectation violations on subclinical depression. Using mixed model analyses, we further examined whether negative expectations preceded negative affect, and whether expectation violations preceded adjustments of expectations. Higher subclinical depression predicted more negative expectations. Within persons, worse-than-expected interpersonal interactions preceded negative affect whereas better-than-expected interactions preceded reductions of negative expectations. Despite problems with skewed data, our approach appears well-suited to examine interpersonal expectations in vivo.
... We propose that the degree of influence that the post-closet disclosure environment has on how likely stressful closetrelated adaptations might be to persist versus how strongly post-closet growth occurs depends on the nature and degree of exposure to that environment. Here we borrow from learning theory (e.g., Bouton, 1993;Bouton et al., 2001) and the notion of corrective emotional experiences (Miller et al., 1947) to posit that the post-closet period is a time of new learning not possible in the closet and that the strength of this new learning depends on the pervasiveness of exposure to post-closet disclosure environments and their emotional context. For instance, one critical feature of the post-closet disclosure environment is the person or people to whom one discloses. ...
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Across the lifespan, most sexual minority individuals experience the closet—a typically prolonged period in which no significant others know their sexual identity. This paper positions the closet as distinct from stigma concealment given its typical duration in years and absolute removal from sources of support for an often-central identity typically during a developmentally sensitive period. The Developmental Model of the Closet proposed here delineates the vicarious learning that takes place before sexual orientation awareness to shape one’s eventual experience of the closet; the stressors that take place after one has become aware of their sexual orientation but has not yet disclosed it, which often takes place during adolescence; and potential lifespan-persistent mental health effects of the closet, as moderated by the structural, interpersonal, cultural, and temporal context of disclosure. The paper outlines the ways in which the model both draws upon and is distinct from earlier models of sexual minority identity formation and proposes several testable hypotheses and future research directions, including tests of multilevel interventions.
... Pavlovian preparations which expose animals to conflicting information across different phases of the experiment (e.g., acquisition followed by extinction) often demonstrate a deficit in retention of the second learned information following a long interval (i.e., so-called spontaneous recovery) or a shift to a new context (i.e., renewal). This has led to the interpretation that second learned conflicting information is more context specific (Bouton, 1993). Using rats in a two-phase proactive interference situation, Wheeler and Miller (2007) demonstrated that providing an immediate test following an extinction treatment can prevent this recency-to-primacy shift which otherwise occurred following a long retention interval or a shift to a test context different from the one used for target training. ...
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Taking a test of previously studied material has been shown to improve long-term subsequent test performance in a large variety of well controlled experiments with both human and nonhuman subjects. This phenomenon is called the testing effect. The promise that this benefit has for the field of education has biased research efforts to focus on applied instances of the testing effect relative to efforts to provide detailed accounts of the effect. Moreover, the phenomenon and its theoretical implications have gone largely unacknowledged in the basic associative learning literature, which historically and currently focuses primarily on the role of information processing at the time of acquisition while ignoring the role of processing at the time of testing. Learning is still widely considered to be something that happens during initial training, prior to testing, and tests are viewed as merely assessments of learning. However, the additional processing that occurs during testing has been shown to be relevant for future performance. The present review offers an introduction to the historical development, application, and modern issues regarding the role of testing as a learning opportunity (i.e., the testing effect). We conclude that the testing effect is seen to be sufficiently robust across tasks and parameters to serve as a compelling challenge for theories of learning to address. Our hope is that this review will inspire new research, particularly with nonhuman subjects, aimed at identifying the basic underlying mechanisms which are engaged during retrieval processes and will fuel new thinking about the learning-performance distinction. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... Therefore, more time separated training and testing sessions in our study than in the above renewal studies. Prior work suggests that the amount of time that has passed since a subject has visited a given context can act as an independent contextual variable, modulating behavior much like conventional context-manipulations (Bouton, 1993). Therefore, when we returned rats to the training-context during testing, ambiguity for the long cue might have been higher than in a renewal design, potentially encouraging hippocampal-engagement. ...
Article
To act proactively, we must predict when future events will occur. Individuals generate temporal predictions using cues that indicate an event will happen after a certain duration elapses. Neural models of timing focus on how the brain represents these cue-duration associations. However, these models often overlook the fact that situational factors frequently modulate temporal expectations. For example, in realistic environments, the intervals associated with different cues will often covary due to a common underlying cause. According to the 'common cause hypothesis,' observers anticipate this covariance such that, when one cue's interval changes, temporal expectations for other cues shift in the same direction. Furthermore, as conditions will often differ across environments, the same cue can mean different things in different contexts. Therefore, updates to temporal expectations should be context-specific. Behavioral work supports these predictions, yet their underlying neural mechanisms are unclear. Here, we asked whether the dorsal hippocampus mediates context-based timing, given its broad role in context-conditioning. Specifically, we trained rats with either hippocampal or sham lesions that two cues predicted reward after either a short or long duration elapsed (e.g., tone-8s / light-16s). Then, we moved rats to a new context and extended the long cue’s interval (e.g., light-32s). This caused rats to respond later to the short cue, despite never being trained to do so. Importantly, when returned to the initial training context, sham rats shifted back toward both cues’ original intervals. In contrast, lesion rats continued to respond at the long cue’s newer interval. Surprisingly, they still showed contextual modulation for the short cue, responding earlier like shams. These data suggest the hippocampus only mediates context-based timing if a cue is explicitly paired and/or rewarded across distinct contexts. Furthermore, as lesions did not impact timing measures at baseline or acquisiton for the long cue’s new interval, our data suggests that the hippocampus only modulates timing when context is relevant.
... The theoretical basis for the development of KibA program lies in the habituation (Foa & Kozak, 1986) and extinction models (Bouton, 1993;Craske et al., 2014) detailing the process of diminishing fear reactions. An intensified and optimized exposure therapy protocol was developed for children and adolescents based on these habituation and extinction models. ...
Chapter
Exposure is a highly effective treatment for anxiety disorders in children and a key ingredient in many empirically supported therapies. Exposure aims to provide the child with new experiences in anxiety-provoking situations, and is usually used as a complement to other CBT interventions. Its effectiveness and high acceptance by patients strongly support its inclusion in treatment protocols with children with a host of anxiety disorders, including specific phobia, social phobia, and separation anxiety. Increased utilization by therapists in practice is expected to improve outcomes. Exposure can be massed for adolescents or adults, but for children under 12, a graduated approach is recommended. One-session treatment is an effective approach for specific phobias that takes place over the course of a 3-hour session. Multi-session treatment, such as the Children Cope with Fear (KibA) program, based on the TAFF program (Schneider et al., Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 80:206–215, 2011; Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81:932–940, 2013), provides a graduated approach that can be applied to a broader range of childhood anxiety disorders, including separation anxiety, social phobia, and specific phobia, and can be used with children ages 8–16. The present chapter provides background on exposure as well as an illustrative, extended case study.KeywordsExposure therapyChildPhobiaFearAnxiety
... Actualmente, es ampliamente aceptado que el fenómeno de renovación (la reaparición de una conducta debido a un cambio de contexto entre la fase de extinción y la prueba) sirve como un modelo de laboratorio de recaídas a conductas no deseadas (Bouton, 1993), es por ello que recientemente varios investigadores resaltan la importancia de encontrar procedimientos que atenúen o eliminen dicha recuperación de respuesta (Wathen & Podlesnik, 2018). Existen diversos procedimientos que buscan atenuar o eliminar la renovación como son la extinción en múltiples contextos (Bernal-Gamboa et al., 2017) y la clave de extinción . ...
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Los esfuerzos por construir espacios escolares saludables, implica conexiones compasivas, respetuosas y amorosas frente a todos los conflictos que afectan a la comunidad estudiantil, todo aquello que fragmenta y daña debe ser analizado, desafiado y restaurado en el aula. Los programas que atienden la convivencia pacífica dentro de las instituciones educativa resultan buenos pero insuficientes para poder encarar el problema de la violencia en las escuelas en particular y en nuestras sociedades en general.
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Dans les trente dernières années, les études de conditionnement classique ont été envisagées sous une perspective cognitive. Cet article passe en revue les principaux travaux qui ont emprunté des notions et une terminologie propres à cette perspective. Après un bref rappel sur les premiers modèles de conditionnement classique (ex. Rescorla-Wagner, 1972), nous présentons les modèles plus récents qui se basent sur les concepts de mémoire et de représentation (ex. Miller et Matzel, 1988). Ces modèles plus récents, qui incorporent la distinction cognitive entre apprentissage et performance, donnent un autre regard sur la nature des liens qui unissent en mémoire les représentations de deux stimuli.
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The prelimbic and infralimbic cortices of the rodent medial prefrontal cortex mediate the effects of context and goals on instrumental behavior. Recent work from our laboratory has expanded this understanding. Results have shown that the prelimbic cortex is important for the modulation of instrumental behavior by the context in which the behavior is learned (but not other contexts), with context potentially being broadly defined (to include at least previous behaviors). We have also shown that the infralimbic cortex is important in the expression of extensively-trained instrumental behavior, regardless of whether that behavior is expressed as a stimulus-response habit or a goal-directed action. Some of the most recent data suggest that infralimbic cortex may control the currently active behavioral state (e.g., habit vs. action or acquisition vs. extinction) when two states have been learned. We have also begun to examine prelimbic and infralimbic cortex function as key nodes of discrete circuits and have shown that prelimbic cortex projections to an anterior region of the dorsomedial striatum are important for expression of minimally-trained instrumental behavior. Overall, the use of an associative learning perspective on instrumental learning has allowed the research to provide new perspectives on how these two “cognitive” brain regions contribute to instrumental behavior.
Article
Flexible calibration of threat responding in accordance with the environment is an adaptive process that allows an animal to avoid harm while also maintaining engagement of other goal-directed actions. This calibration process, referred to as threat response regulation, requires an animal to calculate the probability that a given encounter will result in a threat so they can respond accordingly. Here we review the neural correlates of two highly studied forms of threat response suppression: extinction and safety conditioning. We focus on how relative levels of certainty or uncertainty in the surrounding environment alter the acquisition and application of these processes. We also discuss evidence indicating altered threat response regulation following stress exposure, including enhanced fear conditioning, and disrupted extinction and safety conditioning. To conclude, we discuss research using an animal model of coping that examines the impact of stressor controllability on threat responding, highlighting the potential for previous experiences with control, or other forms of coping, to protect against the effects of future adversity.
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Experimental paradigms measuring key psychological constructs can enhance our understanding of mechanisms underlying human psychological well-being and mental health. Delivering such paradigms remotely affords opportunities to reach larger, more representative samples than is typically possible with in-person research. The efficiency gained from remote delivery makes it easier to test replication of previously established effects in well-powered samples. There are several challenges to the successful development and delivery of remote experimental paradigms, including use of an appropriate delivery platform, identifying feasible outcome measures, and metrics of participant compliance. In this paper, we present FLARe (Fear Learning and Anxiety Response), open-source software in the form of a smartphone app and web portal for the creation and delivery of remote fear conditioning experiments. We describe the benefits and challenges associated with the creation of a remote delivery platform for fear conditioning, before presenting in detail the resultant software suite, and one instance of deploying this using the FLARe Research infrastructure. We provide examples of the application of FLARe to several research questions which illustrate the benefits of the remote approach to experiment delivery. The FLARe smartphone app and web portal are available for use by other researchers and have been designed to be user-friendly and intuitive. We hope that FLARe will be a useful tool for those interested in conducting well-powered fear conditioning studies to inform our understanding of the development and treatment of anxiety disorders.
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As a noninvasive behavioral intervention, the retrieval-extinction (R-E) procedure has drawn much research attention for its capacity to target the reconsolidation of maladaptive memories. However, later research findings suggest that the cause and consequence of R-E may be more complicated than previously suggested. For example, the R-E procedure could increase an animal's motivation for drug-seeking under certain circumstances, and the reversed extinction-retrieval (E-R) procedure could also suppress the drug memory. Two possible mechanisms underlying the R-E procedure have been proposed: the reconsolidation-update and extinction-facilitation hypotheses. To elucidate the paradoxical prior findings and examine these two hypotheses, we systematically examined the efficacy of the extinction (E), R-E, and E-R procedures in mice's low-dose versus high-dose cocaine-induced conditioned place preference (CPP) memory. We showed that the dose of cocaine is a crucial determinant of the efficacy of the three behavioral interventions. The E procedure exerted a long-lasting suppression of the low-dose cocaine CPP memory, while the R-E procedure induced more memory defects than the E and E-R procedures in its long-term suppression of the high-dose cocaine CPP memory. It warrants further investigation of whether the R-E procedure's underlying neurochemical and molecular mechanisms differ from the E and E-R procedures.
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This article reviews recent findings from the author’s laboratory that may provide new insights into how habits are made and broken. Habits are extensively practiced behaviors that are automatically evoked by antecedent cues and performed without their goal (or reinforcer) “in mind.” Goal-directed actions, in contrast, are instrumental behaviors that are performed because their goal is remembered and valued. New results suggest that actions may transition to habit after extended practice when conditions encourage reduced attention to the behavior. Consistent with theories of attention and learning, a behavior may command less attention (and become habitual) as its reinforcer becomes well-predicted by cues in the environment; habit learning is prevented if presentation of the reinforcer is uncertain. Other results suggest that habits are not permanent, and that goal-direction can be restored by several environmental manipulations, including exposure to unexpected reinforcers or context change. Habits are more context-dependent than goal-directed actions are. Habit learning causes retroactive interference in a way that is reminiscent of extinction: It inhibits, but does not erase, goal-direction in a context-dependent way. The findings have implications for the understanding of habitual and goal-directed control of behavior as well as disordered behaviors like addictions.
Chapter
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common and disabling condition that can arise following severely threatening events. It is characterized by the re-experiencing of trauma memories, such as through flashbacks, nightmares or emotional reactions, avoidance of memories and reminders of the trauma, negative trauma-related cognitions and affect, and hyperarousal symptoms. This chapter reviews the epidemiology and diagnosis of PTSD, as well as current theoretical models and evidence-based treatments used to address the disorder. The chapter uses cognitive therapy for PTSD as an example to describe how to conduct effective trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. The potential for resilience interventions and future developments in the field are also discussed.
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The hippocampus, retrosplenial cortex and anterior thalamus are key components of a neural circuit known to be involved in a variety of memory functions, including spatial, contextual and episodic memory. In this review, we focus on the role of this circuit in contextual memory processes. The background environment, or context, is a powerful cue for memory retrieval, and neural representations of the context provide a mechanism for efficiently retrieving relevant memories while avoiding interference from memories that belong to other contexts. Data from experimental lesions and neural manipulation techniques indicate that each of these regions is critical for contextual memory. Neurophysiological evidence from the hippocampus and retrosplenial cortex suggest that contextual information is represented within this circuit by population-level neural firing patterns that reliably differentiate each context a subject encounters. These findings indicate that encoding contextual information to support context-dependent memory retrieval is a key function of this circuit.
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While there are a number of recommended first-line interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treatment efficacy has been less than ideal. Generally, PTSD treatment models explain symptom manifestation via associative learning, treating the individual as a passive organism - acted upon - rather than self as agent. At their core, predictive coding (PC) models introduce the fundamental role of self-conceptualisation and hierarchical processing of one’s sensory context in safety learning. This theoretical article outlines how predictive coding models of emotion offer a parsimonious framework to explain PTSD treatment response within a value-based decision-making framework. Our model integrates the predictive coding elements of the perceived: self, world and self-in the world and how they impact upon one or more discrete stages of value-based decision-making: (1) mental representation; (2) emotional valuation; (3) action selection and (4) outcome valuation. We discuss treatment and research implications stemming from our hypotheses.
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Written by internationally recognized experts, this comprehensive CBT clinician's manual provides disorder-specific chapters and accessible pedagogical features. The cutting-edge research, advanced theory, and attention to special adaptations make this an appropriate reference text for qualified CBT practitioners, students in post-graduate CBT courses, and clinical psychology doctorate students. The case examples demonstrate clinical applications of specific interventions and explain how to adapt CBT protocols for a range of diverse populations. It strikes a balance between core, theoretical principles and protocol-based interventions, simulating the experience of private supervision from a top expert in the field.
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Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a widely used evidence-based treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The mental processes underlying both PTSD and EMDR treatment effects are often explained by drawing on processes that involve the automatic formation and change of mental associations. Recent evidence that contrasts with these explanations is discussed and a new perspective to PTSD and EMDR treatment effects is proposed that draws on automatic inferential processes and can be readily integrated with the dominant (Adaptive Information Processing) model. This new perspective incorporates insights from cognitive theories that draw on predictive processing and goal-directed processes to elucidate (changes in) automatic inferences that underlie PTSD symptoms and EMDR treatment effects. Recommendations for clinical practice are provided based on this new perspective.
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Relapse within the context of a substance use disorder can be triggered by cues that function as discriminative stimuli to signal contingencies of drug availability and promote drug-taking behavior. Extinction procedures can weaken this association between drug-associated cues and drug-taking behavior and may reduce the probability of relapse. This study evaluated a regimen of extinction training on cocaine and heroin self-administration in rhesus monkeys under a drug-vs-food choice procedure. Behavior was initially maintained under a concurrent schedule of food (1-g food pellets; fixed-ratio 100 schedule) and cocaine injections (0–0.1 mg/kg/injection; fixed-ratio 10) (n = 4 males) or heroin injections (0–0.01 mg/kg/injection; fixed-ratio 10) (n = 3 females and 1 male) during daily 2-hr choice sessions. Subsequently, choice sessions were supplemented by daily 20-hr saline self-administration sessions for 14 consecutive days. During saline self-administration sessions, only drug-associated discriminative stimuli were presented and responding produced saline injections. Drug continued to be available during choice sessions. Prior to extinction training, both cocaine and heroin maintained dose-dependent increases in drug-vs-food choice. Exposure to 14 saline self-administration sessions failed to significantly decrease drug choice and increase food choice. These preclinical results do not support the effectiveness of extinguishing drug-associated discriminative stimuli as a nonpharmacological treatment strategy for reducing drug choice.
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Fear is an adaptive emotion that serves to protect an organism against potential dangers. It is often studied using classical conditioning paradigms where a conditioned stimulus is paired with an aversive unconditioned stimulus to induce a threat response. Less commonly studied is a phenomenon that is related to this form of conditioning, known as latent inhibition. Latent inhibition (LI) is a paradigm in which a neutral cue is repeatedly presented in the absence of any aversive associations. Subsequent pairing of this pre-exposed cue with an aversive stimulus typically leads to reduced expression of a conditioned fear/threat response. In this article, we review some of the theoretical basis for LI and its behavioral and neural mechanisms. We compare and contrast LI and fear/threat extinction—a process in which a previously conditioned cue is repeatedly presented in the absence of aversive outcomes. We end with highlighting the potential clinical utility of LI. Particularly, we focus on how LI application could be useful for enhancing resilience, especially for individuals who are more prone to continuous exposure to trauma and stressful environments, such as healthcare workers and first responders. The knowledge to be gained from advancing our understanding of neural mechanisms in latent inhibition could be applicable across psychiatric disorders characterized by exaggerated fear responses and impaired emotion regulation.
Article
Gold-standard psychological treatments such as exposure therapy are significantly undermined by high relapse rates. Although exposure-based treatments are capable of extinguishing maladaptive behaviours, these behaviours often spontaneously re-emerge over time – a phenomenon known in experimental research as spontaneous recovery. Understanding the factors that underlie this process is essential to improving long-term treatment outcomes. One factor that is yet to be properly examined is the effect of the total span of time across which behaviours are learned. To date, only one study by Gallistel & Papachristos (2020) has explored this in mice. Their findings suggest that long spans of acquisition learning result in greater spontaneous recovery compared to short spans. We investigated the effect of conditioning span across 5 experiments using rats. Contrary to Gallistel & Papachristos, our results found no difference in recovery between rats conditioned over a long span versus a short span, following short, intermediate and long delay intervals. This suggests that the span of conditioning does not affect the magnitude of recovery, nor the rate at which recovery emerges. Unexpectedly, conditioning span did appear to influence the strength of responding during acquisition, such that longer conditioning spans led to higher levels of responding. This finding could indicate that the learning process operates over a long time period beyond the original training episode. However, further research is needed to establish whether conditioning span influences the strength of what is learned, or instead the performance of a conditioned response.
Chapter
Exposure therapy is a widely utilized and researched psychological intervention for the treatment of anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). Chap. 1 sets the stage for the chapters that follow by providing a brief overview of the history and the evidence base underlying exposure therapy’s use in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Also included in Chap. 1 is an overview of how exposure therapy is used to treat anxiety disorders, what it targets, and how to implement it with a patient. The focus of Chap. 1 is to provide the reader with a review of the application of exposure therapy in the treatment of anxiety disorders in order to aid the reader’s understanding of the adaptations presented in later chapters, which describe using exposure therapy with anxious populations with unique comorbidities and sets of populations with primary issues other than anxiety disorders.KeywordsExposure therapyAnxietyPosttraumatic stress disorderObsessive-compulsive disorderIn vivo exposureImaginal exposureInteroceptive exposure
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The formation and extinction of fear memories represent two forms of learning that each engage the hippocampus and amygdala. How cell populations in these areas contribute to fear relapse, however, remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that, in male mice, cells active during fear conditioning in the dentate gyrus of hippocampus exhibit decreased activity during extinction and are re-engaged after contextual fear relapse. In vivo calcium imaging reveals that relapse drives population dynamics in the basolateral amygdala to revert to a network state similar to the state present during fear conditioning. Finally, we find that optogenetic inactivation of neuronal ensembles active during fear conditioning in either the hippocampus or amygdala is sufficient to disrupt fear expression after relapse, while optogenetic stimulation of these same ensembles after extinction is insufficient to artificially mimic fear relapse. These results suggest that fear relapse triggers a partial re-emergence of the original fear memory representation, providing new insight into the neural substrates of fear relapse.
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While the renewal effect of extinction is considered to be invoked by attention to context during the extinction phase, there is also evidence that processing during initial learning (acquisition) may be important for later renewal. A noradrenergic agonist and a dopaminergic antagonist, administered before acquisition, did not affect renewal, however, the effects of NMDAergic neurotransmission in this regard are as yet unknown. In a previous study, administration of a single dose of the NMDA agonist D-cycloserine (DCS) before extinction learning facilitated extinction in the context of acquisition (AAA), but had no effect upon renewal. In the present fMRI study, DCS was administered prior to the initial acquisition of a predictive learning task, in order to investigate whether NMDA receptor (NMDAR) stimulation at this timepoint will modulate overall learning as well as the level of renewal, while increasing activation in the extinction- and renewal-relevant brain regions of inferior frontal gyrus (iFG) and hippocampus (HC). DCS facilitated acquisition, as well as extinction learning in the context of acquisition (AAA), and raised the level of ABA renewal. While BOLD activation during acquisition did not differ between treatment groups, activation in bilateral iFG showed a double dissociation during processing of AAA extinction trials, with DCS-mediated higher activation in right iFG and deactivation in left iFG. In contrast, placebo showed higher activation in left iFG and deactivation in right iFG. During the test (recall) phase, left iFG and right anterior hippocampus activation was increased in DCS participants who showed renewal, with activation in this region correlating with the ABA renewal level. The results demonstrate that NMDA receptor stimulation can facilitate both initial learning and extinction of associations, and in this way has an impact upon the resultant level of renewal. In particular NMDAergic processing in iFG appears relevant for the facilitation of AAA extinction and ABA recall in the test phase.
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Research from recent decades has highlighted the distinction between excitatory and inhibitory Pavlovian learning mechanisms. Based on this distinction, state-of-the-art exposure therapy for anxiety disorders emphasizes inhibitory learning and retrieval as its primary mechanism for long-term reduction in fear, anxiety, and avoidance. Seven years ago, we (Craske, et al., 2014) summarized exposure therapy from an inhibitory learning approach, focusing on eight exposure optimization strategies. Here, we update this model based on recent work and describe how to conduct exposure therapy from an inhibitory retrieval approach and encourage further empirical investigation of its basic premises. To this end, we guide the reader in the use of the OptEx Nexus: a clinician's tool for conducting exposure therapy from an inhibitory retrieval approach. We categorize exposure strategies as fundamental (expectancy violation, attention to feared stimulus/situation, removal of safety signals, and mental rehearsal after exposure), advanced (deepened extinction, occasional reinforced extinction), and promoting generalization of learning (retrieval cues, multiple contexts, stimulus variability, positive affect). We additionally discuss extinction learning with distal future feared outcomes, the role of avoidance, and alternative models/approaches to exposure therapy, including counterconditioning, novelty-enhanced extinction, latent cause models, and reconsolidation. Lastly, we illustrate clinical implementation via vignettes of exposure therapy from an inhibitory retrieval approach (see Supplemental materials).
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Studies investigating the neural mechanisms by which associations between cues and predicted outcomes control behavior often use associative learning frameworks to understand the neural control of behavior. These frameworks do not always account for the full range of effects that novelty can have on behavior and future associative learning. Here, in mice, we show that dopamine in the nucleus accumbens core is evoked by novel, neutral stimuli, and the trajectory of this response over time tracked habituation to these stimuli. Habituation to novel cues before associative learning reduced future associative learning, a phenomenon known as latent inhibition. Crucially, trial-by-trial dopamine response patterns tracked this phenomenon. Optogenetic manipulation of dopamine responses to the cue during the habituation period bidirectionally influenced future associative learning. Thus, dopamine signaling in the nucleus accumbens core has a causal role in novelty-based learning in a way that cannot be predicted based on purely associative factors.
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Anxiety disorders are the most frequent type of mental disorder. Threat-conditioning memory plays a central role in anxiety disorders, impacting complex cognitive systems by modifying behavioral responses to fearful stimuli and inducing an overestimation of potential threats. Here, we analyzed the reminder-dependent amnesia on physiological responses, unconditioned stimulus (US) expectancy ratings, and measures of cognitive bias towards the threat of a threat-conditioning memory. Subjects received differential threat-conditioning. Twenty-four hours later, after reactivation of the memory of threat-conditioning, one group performed a high demand working memory task (HWM) and a second group a low demand working memory task (LWM). A third group only performed the HWM task. Retention of conditioned threat memory was tested on Day 3 in an extinction session followed by a reinstatement test. Tasks targeting stimulus representation, valuation, and attentional bias towards threat were performed. We show that the reminder-dependent intervention with an HWM weakened memory retention as expressed in skin conductance response (SCR) and faded the representation and valuation towards the threat, but it did not affect US expectancy or attentional bias. Our findings provide evidence for the experimental psychopathology approach opening the possibility to weaken both Threat conditioning memory and the systems associated with the maintenance of anxiety features.
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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), characterized by abnormally persistent and distressing memories, is a chronic debilitating condition in need of new treatment options. Current treatment guidelines recommend psychotherapy as first line management with only two drugs, sertraline and paroxetine, approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of PTSD. These drugs have limited efficacy as they only reduce symptoms related to depression and anxiety without producing permanent remission. PTSD remains a significant public health problem with high morbidity and mortality requiring major advances in therapeutics. Early evidence has emerged for the beneficial effects of psychedelics particularly in combination with psychotherapy for management of PTSD, including psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, cannabinoids, ayahuasca and ketamine. MDMA and psilocybin reduce barrier to therapy by increasing trust between therapist and patient, thus allowing for modification of trauma related memories. Furthermore, research into the memory reconsolidation mechanisms has allowed for identification of various pharmacological targets to disrupt abnormally persistent memories. A number of pre-clinical and clinical studies have investigated novel and re-purposed pharmacological agents to disrupt fear memory in PTSD. Novel therapeutic approaches like neuropeptide Y, oxytocin, cannabinoids and neuroactive steroids have also shown potential for PTSD treatment. Here, we focus on the role of fear memory in the pathophysiology of PTSD and propose that many of these new therapeutic strategies produce benefits through the effect on fear memory. Evaluation of recent research findings suggests that while a number of drugs have shown promising results in preclinical studies and pilot clinical trials, the evidence from large scale clinical trials would be needed for these drugs to be incorporated in clinical practice.
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Various studies demonstrated that extinction training taking place shortly after the activation of the acquired fear could weaken the conditioned fear. The procedure is called post-retrieval extinction (PRE). However, from the time it emerged, it has suffered from inconsistencies in the ability of researchers to replicate the seemingly established effects. Extant literature implies that conditioned fear might be differentially sensitive to the nature of conditioned stimuli (CS) used. The aim of the present study, therefore, is threefold. First, we aimed to replicate Schiller et al. (Nature, 463, 49–53. 2010) procedure in which the PRE had produced positive results with arbitrary CSs only. Also, we examined the PRE as a function of CS type (ecological-fear-relevant (images of spider and snake) vs. arbitrary (images of yellow and blue circles)). Finally, we aimed to investigate the long-term effects of the PRE (i.e., 24 h, 15 d, and 3 mo). The study consisted of acquisition, re-activation and extinction, and re-extinction phases. Dependent measure was the recovery of fear responses as indexed by the skin conductance responses (SCRs) and arousal ratings of the participants at the last trial of the extinction and the first trial of the re-extinction. All groups showed significant acquisition and extinction patterns, compared to the other two groups (i.e., 6 h after the activating CS and without an activating stimulus) only the group that undertook extinction trials 10 min after the activating CS showed a sustained extinction. Thus, our findings provided further evidence for the robustness of the PRE paradigm in preventing the recovery of extinguished fears behaviorally, both with ecological and arbitrary stimuli.
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Written by internationally recognized experts, this comprehensive CBT clinician's manual provides disorder-specific chapters and accessible pedagogical features. The cutting-edge research, advanced theory, and attention to special adaptations make this an appropriate reference text for qualified CBT practitioners, students in post-graduate CBT courses, and clinical psychology doctorate students. The case examples demonstrate clinical applications of specific interventions and explain how to adapt CBT protocols for a range of diverse populations. It strikes a balance between core, theoretical principles and protocol-based interventions, simulating the experience of private supervision from a top expert in the field.
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Four experiments examined the effect of pairing Stimulus B with food after it had taken part in a discrimination in which Stimulus A was paired with food and the Simultaneous Compound AB was followed by nothing. Exp 1 revealed that responding during AB, after conditioning with B, was weaker than for a group given nonreinforced trials with B, rather than AB, in the initial discrimination. Exps 2 and 3 revealed that despite conditioning with B, subsequent reaquisition of the original discrimination was more rapid than for control groups. Exp 4 revealed a similar outcome when the discrimination in the test phase was negative patterning, in which A and B were individually paired with food, whereas together they were followed by nothing. The results suggest that conditioning with B does not abolish the effects of the previous discrimination training. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Five experiments with 68 pigeons investigated the conditions under which contextual stimuli gain conditional control in the discrimination reversal paradigm. In Exp I, Ss learned an operant discrimination in which the positive stimulus (S+) was 555 nm and the negative stimulus (S–) was 576 nm in one context (houselight off plus white noise [HLFN]) and then learned the reversal (S+ 576 nm; S– 555 nm) in another context (houselight on plus tone [HLNT]). Subsequent wavelength generalization testing revealed responding appropriate to each context: The gradients peaked at 555 nm in HLFN and at 576 nm in HLNT. In Exp II, separate groups experienced both visual and auditory context cues, only visual ones, or only auditory ones. The visual cues worked as well as the compound, but the auditory cues gained no conditional control. In Exp III, houselight illumination replaced by white light directly added to the colors serving as discriminative cues. Results suggest that houselight illumination does not gain conditional control by altering the brightness and saturation of the key colors. In Exp IV, HLNT and HLFN gained conditional control over discriminations based on different angles of a white line, but background key color did not. In Exp V, conditional control over a color discrimination was established by contexts consisting of black and white striped walls vs plain walls. Findings suggest that pigeons use diffuse visual cues to identify the place where food-reinforced learning has taken place. (16 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Four experiments tested priming in short-term memory as a model for latent inhibition and habituation. The model postulates that the two phenomena results from reduced processing when a representation of the target stimulus is already active (primed) in short-term memory at the time of its presentation. Priming is assumed to depend on the integrity of an association formed between the contextual stimuli and the conditional stimulus (CS) during exposure. Using a procedure that should have overshadowed the context, Experiment 1 found that latent inhibition and habituation were nevertheless maintained when a second CS of either equal or shorter duration overlapped with the target during exposure. Experiments 2, 3, and 4 showed that sensory preconditioning as well as habituation and latent inhibition were obtained with compound exposure, providing reasonable evidence that the added CS was indeed processed along with the target during exposure. These results are interpreted as being inconsistent with the priming model.