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Biological Significance as a Determinant of Cue Competition

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Abstract

Many researchers have noted the similarities between causal judgment in humans and Pavlovian conditioning in animals. One recently noted discrepancy between these two forms of learning is the absence of backward blocking in animals, in contrast with its occurrence in human causality judgment. Here we report two experiments that investigated the role of biological significance in backward blocking as a potential explanation of this discrepancy. With rats as subjects, we used sensory preconditioning and second-order conditioning procedures, which allowed the to-be-blocked cue to retain low biological significance during training for some animals, but not for others. Backward blocking was observed only when the tar get cue was of low biological significance during training. These results suggest that the apparent discrepancy between human causal judgment and animal Pavlovian conditioning arises not because of a species difference, but because human causality studies ordinarily use stimuli of low biological significance, whereas animal Pavlovian studies ordinarily use stimuli of high biological significance, which are apparently protected against cue competition.

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... Because their results were consistent with findings from human causal learning research, the authors argue in favor of the generality of Pavlovian models to account for human learning under circumstances of cue competition. Denniston, Miller & Matute (1996) compared backward blocking measures in two groups of rats. One group was exposed to a biologically significant US, and the other was exposed to a low biological significance stimulus (moderate to low intensity auditory cue) in a conditioned suppression procedure. ...
... 43 Ref.: Conductual, 2013, 1, 2, 39-54 ISSN: 2340The authors suggest that biologically significant stimuli may be insensitive to cue competition effects. They argue that due to the biological relevance of those stimuli, both of the elements of a compound CS in a blocking procedure are likely to acquire associative value (Denniston, Miller & Matute, 1996; Oberling, Bristol, Matute & Miller, 2000). However, as we have noted, the blocking effect has been more consistently demonstrated in animals than in humans. ...
... In fact, studies a variation of procedures have demonstrated equivalence in non-human animals (Kastak, Schusterman & Kastak, 2001). Consider the following: a) the Pavlovian literature has systematically reported that animals show function transfer (e.g., Holland, 1981), b) rats acquire conditioned responding when training includes a non-biologically significant stimulus as a US (Denniston, Miller & Matute, 1996), and c) research with humans has shown that equivalence classes may be acquired through Pavlovian preparations. In our view, these data strongly suggest that the phenomenon of derived relations is not exclusive to humans. ...
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Perception is still a controversial topic in psychology and in the history of science. Historically, it has been studied using non-existent entities that are responsible for the way organisms interact with the world perceived. A naturalistic approach developed by Kantor (1924, 1926, 1977; Kantor & Smith, 1975) is presented as to alternative of traditional explanations. The concepts of sensation, attention and perception are explained as fundamental parts of the total response system. Perceptual functions are described as historical and context dependent; they define how the organism will respond to a stimulus object. As any other function, perceptual functions can also be substitutable; this possibility is developed further while considering non-linguistic perceptual functions of words. It is concluded that perceptual reactions are fundamental for any further interaction of the organism with its environment; therefore it should not be left outside of the study of scientific psychology.
... Thus, following sensory preconditioning treatment a target cue still has little biological significance to protect it from decrements in its effective associative linkage to the outcome due to posttraining (i.e., postsensory preconditioning training) inflation of the target cueÕs comparator stimulus. Toward accounting for this ease of obtaining posttraining inflation effects in sensory preconditioning (in contrast to first-order conditioning) as well as the differential effectiveness of posttraining inflation and deflation procedures in first-order conditioning, Denniston, Miller, and Matute (1996) and Miller and Matute (1996) have stepped outside of the framework of the comparator hypothesis and suggested that animals behave in a fundamentally conservative way; once they have learned a biologically significant relationship within their environment, they are resistant to surrender it. Specifically, they proposed Ôbiologically significantÕ stimuli are protected against losing behavioral control as a consequence of posttraining inflation of their companion stimuli (Denniston et al., 1996;. ...
... Toward accounting for this ease of obtaining posttraining inflation effects in sensory preconditioning (in contrast to first-order conditioning) as well as the differential effectiveness of posttraining inflation and deflation procedures in first-order conditioning, Denniston, Miller, and Matute (1996) and Miller and Matute (1996) have stepped outside of the framework of the comparator hypothesis and suggested that animals behave in a fundamentally conservative way; once they have learned a biologically significant relationship within their environment, they are resistant to surrender it. Specifically, they proposed Ôbiologically significantÕ stimuli are protected against losing behavioral control as a consequence of posttraining inflation of their companion stimuli (Denniston et al., 1996;. A biologically significant stimulus is here defined as one that controls behavior, either inherently (e.g., food, water, painful or intense stimulation, or sex), or through association with another biologically significant event (e.g., a CS that has been paired with an inherently biologically significant stimulus). ...
... That is, studies with humans typically use outcomes of low biological significance, for example causal attribution with respect to fictitious allergic reactions to foods experienced by hypothetical patients, whereas studies involving nonhuman subjects typically use biologically significant outcomes such as electric shock or food USs. However, when the backward blocking studies with nonhuman subjects used outcomes of low biological significance, backward blocking was observed (Denniston et al., 1996;. The efficacies of posttraining inflation and deflation manipulations have been assessed separately across various procedures, tasks, and species. ...
Article
Increases in conditioned responding to a target stimulus achieved through posttraining extinction of a former companion stimulus (deflation) have proven moderately easy to obtain. In contrast, reductions in responding to a target as a result of posttraining pairings of its companion with the outcome (inflation) have proven more elusive. It has been suggested that stimuli with high biological significance (i.e., high response potential) are partially protected against inflation-mediated reductions in responding. Three conditioned suppression studies with rats systematically compared the consequences of posttraining inflation and deflation of companion stimuli. Experiment 1 replicated the previously observed asymmetries. Experiment 2 showed that inflation and deflation effects are symmetrical when target stimuli are of relatively low biological significance during training. Experiment 3 suggested that a biologically significant stimulus is also protected against reductions in its potential to act as an effective comparator stimulus. These findings challenge many contemporary theories of associative learning, particularly those designed to account for retrospective revaluation.
... If they occur during the pairings, it (in conjunction with the pairings) is called the degraded contingency effect (in the narrow sense, as any presentation of the cue or outcome alone degrades objective contingency, Rescorla, 1968). If they occur after the pairings, it is an instance of retrospective revaluation (e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996). The retrospective revaluation effect has proven far more elusive than any of the other five means of attenuating excitatory conditioned responding through degraded contingency, but it occurs under select conditions (R. R. . ...
... There are also many reports of negative retrospective revaluation, in which the change in control by the target is in opposition to the change produced in the companion. Examples of negative retrospective revaluation include recovery from overshadowing as a result of extinction of the overshadowing stimulus (e.g., Matzel et al., 1985), decreases in conditioned inhibition as a result of extinction of the inhibitor's training excitor (e.g., DeVito & Fowler, 1987), and backward blocking (i.e., AX-outcome, followed by A-outcome, e.g., Denniston et al., 1996). ...
... Only a few associative models can account for reduced responding as a result of unsignaled outcome exposures after the termination of cue training (Dickinson & Burke, 1996;Van Hamme & Wasserman, 1994). However, confirmation of this prediction is only a limited success, because the effect is difficult to obtain experimentally (see Denniston et al., 1996). ...
Chapter
Conditioning and learning are the means by which organisms modify their behavior in response to changes in the environment. These changes occur within the lifespan of the organism, in contrast to conventional evolution, which supports behavioral changes across generations in response to changes in the environment. The central phenomena of Pavlovian conditioning and instrumental learning are described, followed by a review of the major theoretical accounts of these phenomena. Questions addressed include the nature of event representation and how representations for events get linked, the centrality of spatiotemporal contiguity and contingency, the other variables that influence the effectiveness of forming associative links, the potential interaction of multiple cues, the similarity of basic learning across tasks and across species, the benefit of practice at retrieving memories, and the functional value of Pavlovian and instrumental responding.Keywords:acquired behavior;associative learning;instrumental behavior;operant behavior;Pavlovian conditioning
... If they occur during the pairings, it (in conjunction with the pairings) is called the degraded contingency effect (in the narrow sense, as any presentation of the cue or outcome alone degrades objective contingency, Rescorla, 1968). If they occur after the pairings, it is an instance of retrospective revaluation (e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996). The retrospective revaluation effect has proven far more elusive than any of the other five means of attenuating excitatory conditioned responding through degraded contingency, but it occurs under select conditions (R. R. . ...
... There are also many reports of negative retrospective revaluation, in which the change in control by the target is in opposition to the change produced in the companion. Examples of negative retrospective revaluation include recovery from overshadowing as a result of extinction of the overshadowing stimulus (e.g., Matzel et al., 1985), decreases in conditioned inhibition as a result of extinction of the inhibitor's training excitor (e.g., DeVito & Fowler, 1987), and backward blocking (i.e., AX-outcome, followed by A-outcome, e.g., Denniston et al., 1996). ...
... Only a few associative models can account for reduced responding as a result of unsignaled outcome exposures after the termination of cue training (Dickinson & Burke, 1996;Van Hamme & Wasserman, 1994). However, confirmation of this prediction is only a limited success, because the effect is difficult to obtain experimentally (see Denniston et al., 1996). ...
Chapter
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The empirical laws of Pavlovian conditioning are summarized for situations with two stimuli and for situations with more than two stimuli. Factors considered include stimulus salience, genetic and experiential predispositions, contiguity, stimulus similarity, contingency, mimetic and compensatory responding, and stimulus generalization. Also reviewed are the consequences of introducing a third stimulus, which include stimulus competition, interference, facilitation, and summation, as well as positive and negative mediation. At the theoretical level, the critical assumptions and variables of acquisition-focused and performance-focused models are examined with special attention to retrospective revaluation. Additionally, the basic laws of instrumental responding are summarized with attention to the law of effect, the three-term contingency, and schedules of reinforcement. Associative structures underlying instrumental responding are also considered, as are hierarchical associations and incentive learning. Finally, a functional analysis of instrumental conditioning is provided with special attention to choice behavior and the matching law, as well as ecological and economic considerations. Keywords: acquired behavior; basic cognition; choice; instrumental learning; learning; Pavlovian conditioning
... Most RR research has focused on the effects of posttraining deflation, both because it is theoretically more interesting (i.e., it bears on the existence of latent associations) and because it is a more robust phenomenon. However, the observation that the RR effects of posttraining associative inflation of a companion cue are weaker than deflation of the companion cue (e.g., Larkin et al., 1998;Hallam et al., 1990; but see Shanks, 1985) is itself informative with respect to evaluating accounts of RR. Denniston et al. (1996) and Miller and Matute (1996) note that the CH anticipates the greater efficacy of posttraining deflation than inflation of the companion cue because deflation of the companion not only weakens Link 3 but potentially also weakens Link 2 (assuming backward extinction occurs, i.e., presentation of cue A alone weakens the effective strength of the X->A association), whereas inflation strengthens Link 3 (as demoted by 'inflation') but also potentially weakens Link 2 (see Fig. 1). As the magnitude of the RR effect predicted by the CH depends on the product of Links 2 and 3, deflation treatment, that likely attenuates both Links 2 and 3, should yield greater RR than inflation treatment, that strengthens Link 3 but potentially weakens Link 2. ...
... Thus, we see that larger RR effects with deflation than inflation of the companion cue is problematic for the VH&W model and Chapman's (1991) rehearsal account, but not the CH or MSOP. Denniston et al. (1996) and Miller and Matute (1996) have suggested an additional account of why RR produced by inflation is weaker than RR produced by deflation. Specifically, based on functional considerations, they proposed that although subjects readily increase the functional status of an association about an outcome, they are resistant to reducing the functional status of an association concerning a biological significance outcome such as a US because a nonfunctional response has a lower cost than failing to respond when such a response would be functional. ...
... Specifically, based on functional considerations, they proposed that although subjects readily increase the functional status of an association about an outcome, they are resistant to reducing the functional status of an association concerning a biological significance outcome such as a US because a nonfunctional response has a lower cost than failing to respond when such a response would be functional. Moreover, Denniston et al. (1996) and Miller and Matute (1996) presented evidence supportive of this assumption in the form of finding the greater efficacy of posttraining deflation relative to inflation of a companion cue is eliminated when the comparison between inflation and deflation is embedded in a sensory preconditioning paradigm in which both compound training and the RR treatment occur before the outcome is paired with a biologically significant US. Although this account of the greater efficacy of deflation relative to inflation may well at least partial account for the asymmetry, it does not stem from any of the proposed accounts of RR described in Section 2 and consequently does not differentiate between these accounts. ...
Article
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Retrospective revaluation refers to an increase (or decrease) in responding to conditioned stimulus (CS X) as a result of decreasing (or increasing) the associative strength of another CS (A) with respect to the unconditioned stimulus (i.e., A-US) that was previously trained in compound with the target CS (e.g., AX-US or just AX). We discuss the conditions under which retrospective revaluation phenomena are most apt to be observed and their implications for various models of learning that are able to account for retrospective revaluation (e.g., Dickinson and Burke, 1996; Miller and Matzel, 1988; Van Hamme and Wasserman, 1994). Although retroactive revaluation is relatively parameter specific, it is seen to be a reliable phenomenon observed across many tasks and species. As it is not anticipated by many conventional models of learning (e.g., Rescorla and Wagner, 1972), it serves as a critical benchmark for evaluating traditional and newer models. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
... Similarly, in a relative validity design (Wagner, Logan, Haberlandt, & Price, 1968), recovery of responding to the less valid cue has been observed when the more valid cue for reinforcement was extinguished between training and testing (Cole, Barnet, & Miller, 1995). Retrospective revaluation by reinforcement of the competing (i.e., blocking) stimulus has also been reported in a backward blocking procedure, which takes the form of a decrease in control of behavior by the target stimulus (e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;. Moreover, both types of retrospective revaluation have been reported when the context competes with a partially reinforced cue (Miguez, Witnauer, & Miller, 2012). ...
... We expected to observe more interference in groups that received higher numbers of A-O interference trials in Phase 2 (e.g., Group Int 12). Having a larger number of reinforced trials in Phase 2 is analogous to providing extra training (i.e., associative inflation) to the non-target cue after target training, which in cue competition can produce higher competition (i.e., a decrease in responding to the target cue; Balleine, Espinet, & Gonzalez, 2005;Denniston et al., 1996;Luque, Morís, Orgaz, Cobos, Matute;Vadillo, Castro, Matute, & Wasserman, 2008). ...
... The results of Experiment 2 are summarized in Figure 3. Retroactive cue interference with expression of the X-O association was observed when a second association was formed with a different cue but the same outcome (A-O). Critically, the magnitude of the interference effect was a direct function of the number of interfering A-O pairings administered in Phase 2. The observation of decreased responding to X when the interfering cue A was further reinforced resembles retrospective revaluation phenomena reported in cue competition when the associative status of the competing cue is inflated prior to test (i.e., backward blocking; e.g., Denniston et al., 1996;Shanks, 1985). The following statistics support these assertions. ...
Article
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Two fear-conditioning experiments with rats assessed whether retrospective revaluation, which has been observed in cue competition (i.e., when compounded cues are followed with an outcome), can also be observed in retroactive cue interference (i.e., when different cues are reinforced in separate phases with the same outcome). Experiment 1 found that after inducing retroactive cue interference (i.e., X-outcome followed by A-outcome), nonreinforced presentations of the interfering cue (A) decreases interference with responding to the target cue (X), just as has been observed in retrospective revaluation experiments in cue competition. Using the opposite manipulation (i.e., adding reinforced presentations of A), Experiment 2 demonstrated that after inducing retroactive cue interference, additional reinforced presentations of the interfering cue (A) increases interference with responding to the target cue (X); alternatively stated, the amount of interference increases with the amount of training with the interfering cue. Thus, both types of retrospective revaluation occur in retroactive cue competition. The results are discussed in terms of the possibility that similar associative mechanisms underlie cue competition and cue interference.
... Interestingly, Blaisdell et al. (Experiments 3 and 4) needed 800 extinction trials of the blocking stimulus to obtain increased responding to the blocked stimulus, whereas we (with a similar two-phase blocking procedure) required only 5 extinction trials of the blocking stimulus (Experiments 2 and 3). As Blaisdell et al. suggested , a possible account of why they needed such a large number of extinction trials would be based on the concept of biological significance (i.e., behavioral control; e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;). The US used by Blaisdell et al. was a footshock, a US that has proven to unconditionally control behavior in rat experiments (e.g., Denniston et al., 1996). ...
... As Blaisdell et al. suggested , a possible account of why they needed such a large number of extinction trials would be based on the concept of biological significance (i.e., behavioral control; e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;). The US used by Blaisdell et al. was a footshock, a US that has proven to unconditionally control behavior in rat experiments (e.g., Denniston et al., 1996). In contrast, the US in the present experiments was not a biologically significant event; the participants lost and gained only points, events that are significant enough to produce responding but sufficiently nonaversive to be ethically acceptable in human research. ...
Article
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In a blocking procedure, conditioned stimulus (CS) A is paired with the unconditioned stimulus (US) in Phase 1, and a compound of CSs A and X is then paired with the US in Phase 2. The usual result of such a treatment is that X elicits less conditioned responding than if the A-US pairings of Phase 1 had not occurred. Obtaining blocking with human participants has proven difficult, especially if a behavioral task is used or if the control group experiences reinforcement of a CS different from the blocking CS in Phase 1. In the present series, in which human participants and a behavioral measure of learning were used, we provide evidence of blocking, using the above described control condition. Most important, we demonstrate that extinction of the blocking CS (A) following blocking treatment reverses the blocking deficit (i.e., increases responding to X). These results are at odds with traditional associative theories of learning, but they support current associative theories that predict that posttraining manipulations of the competing stimulus can result in a reversal of stimulus competition phenomena.
... As noted earlier, in animal conditioning experiments, the main finding is that rats and other non-human animals more commonly show a blocking effect in the forward paradigm than in the backward paradigm (Balleine, Espinet, & Gonzalez, 2005;Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;. In contrast, the human causal ratings obtained by Vandorpe and De Houwer (2005) and Wasserman and Berglan (1998) do not show a difference in blocking across the two directions for the target cue X (5.0 on a 1-10 rating scale for the forward blocking paradigm in Vandorpe & De Houwer, 2005; and 4.75 on a 1-9 rating scale for the backward blocking paradigm in Wasserman & Berglan, 1998). ...
... In particular, humans readily adopt a noisy-or integration rule when learning about binary-valued outcomes, a rule that yields little difference between forward and backward blocking (Shanks, 1985;Vandorpe & De Houwer, 2005;Wasserman & Berglan, 2010). In contrast, animals in conditioning para-digms appear to adopt a linear-sum rule, which yields stronger forward blocking with much weaker backward blocking (Balleine et al., 2005;Denniston et al., 1996;. ...
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Two key research issues in the field of causal learning are how people acquire causal knowledge when observing data that are presented sequentially, and the level of abstraction at which learning takes place. Does sequential causal learning solely involve the acquisition of specific cause-effect links, or do learners also acquire knowledge about abstract causal constraints? Recent empirical studies have revealed that experience with one set of causal cues can dramatically alter subsequent learning and performance with entirely different cues, suggesting that learning involves abstract transfer, and such transfer effects involve sequential presentation of distinct sets of causal cues. It has been demonstrated that pre-training (or even post-training) can modulate classic causal learning phenomena such as forward and backward blocking. To account for these effects, we propose a Bayesian theory of sequential causal learning. The theory assumes that humans are able to consider and use several alternative causal generative models, each instantiating a different causal integration rule. Model selection is used to decide which integration rule to use in a given learning environment in order to infer causal knowledge from sequential data. Detailed computer simulations demonstrate that humans rely on the abstract characteristics of outcome variables (e.g., binary vs. continuous) to select a causal integration rule, which in turn alters causal learning in a variety of blocking and overshadowing paradigms. When the nature of the outcome variable is ambiguous, humans select the model that yields the best fit with the recent environment, and then apply it to subsequent learning tasks. Based on sequential patterns of cue-outcome co-occurrence, the theory can account for a range of phenomena in sequential causal learning, including various blocking effects, primacy effects in some experimental conditions, and apparently abstract transfer of causal knowledge.
... However, the available data suggest that simply inflating the value of a comparator stimulus does not adversely affect the response to a previously trained stimulus (Miller, Hallam, & Grahame, 1990). Recent modifications of the comparator theory intended to incorporate this finding (Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996; have argued that biologically significant stimuli, such as those previously paired with a US, are not subject to retroactive depression of this sort. As a result, such a modified theory does not anticipate overexpectation. ...
... Recent findings from other cue-competition experiments, however, complicate this extrapolation of comparator theory. Miller and his colleagues (Denniston et al., 1996; have argued that a biologically significant stimulus (i.e., one that has been conditioned with a US) is not subject to performance decrements that are based on the current state of its comparator stimulus. Their data come primarily from backwards-blocking paradigms, in which a compound stimulus (AX) is reinforced prior to A+ alone trials. ...
Article
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In three experiments that used appetitive preparations with rats, we examined the effects of reinforcing a compound consisting of two previously reinforced stimuli on subsequent responding to those stimuli. Experiment 1 showed that a Pavlovian conditioned stimulus given this treatment evoked fewer magazine entries when presented alone than did a reinforced stimulus that did not receive the compound treatment. Experiment 2 examined inhibition of delay and generalization decrement accounts for the results of Experiment 1. Experiment 3 extended this finding to an instrumental learning paradigm.
... Although backward blocking appears reliably in humans, it either does not occur in animals (e.g., Miller, Hallam, & Graham, 1990;Schweitzer & Green, 1982) or only in special circumstances (Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;. The situations where it appears with animals seem to be those where the stimuli involved are not "biologically significant" (Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;, a term used by Miller and Matute to refer to the ability of a stimulus to elicit a response. ...
... Although backward blocking appears reliably in humans, it either does not occur in animals (e.g., Miller, Hallam, & Graham, 1990;Schweitzer & Green, 1982) or only in special circumstances (Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;. The situations where it appears with animals seem to be those where the stimuli involved are not "biologically significant" (Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;, a term used by Miller and Matute to refer to the ability of a stimulus to elicit a response. Because the predicted outcomes in a typical animal study are significant in some way (e.g., food, electric shock), as opposed to the innocuous stimuli used in predictive learning tasks, the associations established during compound conditioning are assumed to be somehow protected from further change as might be induced by retrospective revaluation techniques. ...
Article
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Select literature regarding cue competition, the contents of learning, and retrieval processes is summarized to demonstrate parallels and differences between human and nonhuman associative learning. Competition phenomena such as blocking, overshadowing, and relative predictive validity are largely analogous in animal and human learning. In general, strong parallels are found in the associative structures established during learning, as well as in the basic phenomena associated with information retrieval. Some differences arise too, such as retrospective evaluation, which seems easier to observe in human than in nonhuman animals. However, the parallels are sufficient to indicate that the study of learning in animals continues to be relevant to human learning and memory.
... In pursuit of this question, early attempts at obtaining retrospective revaluation in animal conditioning were unsuccessful (e.g., Schweitzer & Green, 1982;Miller, Hallam, & Grahame, 1990). Nonetheless, Denniston, Miller, and Matute (1996) demonstrated backward blocking in a nonhuman (rat) conditioning preparation when the cues and outcome were of low biological significance (i.e., no traditional USs were introduced until completion of training [i.e., sensory preconditioning, Brodgen, 1939]), which the authors reasonably argued was more analogous to the causal induction tasks used in humans. These observations led to the development of new and updated learning models that were capable of accommodating these so-called retrospective revaluation effects (e.g., Aitken, Larkin, & Dickinson, 2001;Denniston et al., 1996;Dickinson & Burke, 1996;Miller & Matzel, 1998;Stout & Miller, 2007;Van Hamme & Wasserman, 1994) More recent work has further demonstrated the difficulty dissociating conditioning processes and the causal knowledge that is presumably mediated by higher cognitive processes. ...
... Nonetheless, Denniston, Miller, and Matute (1996) demonstrated backward blocking in a nonhuman (rat) conditioning preparation when the cues and outcome were of low biological significance (i.e., no traditional USs were introduced until completion of training [i.e., sensory preconditioning, Brodgen, 1939]), which the authors reasonably argued was more analogous to the causal induction tasks used in humans. These observations led to the development of new and updated learning models that were capable of accommodating these so-called retrospective revaluation effects (e.g., Aitken, Larkin, & Dickinson, 2001;Denniston et al., 1996;Dickinson & Burke, 1996;Miller & Matzel, 1998;Stout & Miller, 2007;Van Hamme & Wasserman, 1994) More recent work has further demonstrated the difficulty dissociating conditioning processes and the causal knowledge that is presumably mediated by higher cognitive processes. ...
... That is, overshadowing should have progressed unimpeded, resulting in the failure to acquire an overshadowed CS-US association. However, biological significance, as used here and previously (e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996; Miller & Matute, 1996), refers to postperceptual processes that protect a CS from response-attenuating comp~ator processes. Biological significance appears to be a property of a stimulus that accords it special attention (hence facilitates retrieval of its representation ) and is indirectly measurable in terms of the responding it elicits. ...
... Moreover, the test context was changed from that of counterconditioning in that at test the water lick tube rather than the saccharin dispenser was present. In this and previous work (e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996; Gunther, Miller, & Matute, 1997; Miller & Matute, 1996; Obcding et al., 1999), we have attempted to provide the beginnings of a principled account of biological significance by systematically exploring the various ways this variable interacts with other better known variables (e.g., associative value) to determine responding. Until now, biological significance has played a vague and inconsistent role in many theories of Pavlovian and instrumental learning (e.g., Hull, 1943; Pavlov, 1927; Thomdike, 1911). ...
Article
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In 3 Pavlovian conditioned lick-suppression experiments, rats received overshadowing treatment with a footshock unconditioned stimulus such that Conditioned Stimulus (CS) A overshadowed CS X. Subjects that subsequently received CS X paired with an established signal far saccharin (CS B) exhibited less overshadowing of the X-footshock association than subjects that did not receive the X-B pairings (Experiment I). Experiment 2 replicated this effect and controlled for some additional alternative accounts of the phenomenon. In Experiment 3, this recovery from overshadowing produced by counterconditioning CS X was attenuated if CS B was massively extinguished prior to counterconditioning. These results are more compatible with models of cue competition that emphasize differences in the expression of associations than those that emphasize differences in associative acquisition.
... Orthogonal to these two factors, the third variable was the context of testing, which was either the same one used for training the interfering association (ABB) or an associatively neutral context in which neither cue had been trained (ABC). We embedded Experiment 1 in a sensory preconditioning procedure because both associative retroactive cue interference and backward blocking are appreciably reduced if the target cue acquires high biological significance (e.g., by associating the target cue with a US) prior to the interference or backward blocking treatment, which is seemingly due to difficultly in attenuating, through indirect means (that is, other than extinction, the response to a cue that has already acquired the potential to elicit a vigorous conditioned response; e.g., Denniston et al., 1996;Oberling et al., 2000). Thus, the ...
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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).
... Still to be determined in pursuing such spatial/temporal parallels are the conditions that engender blocking and cue competition. Miller, Matute, and colleagues have recently found that biologically significant stimuli are less subject to blocking and other phenomena of cue competition than biologically insignificant stimuli (Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;Oberling, Bristol, Matute, & Miller, 2000). Whether this also holds in the spatial domain remains an open question. ...
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Two experiments tested blocking in landmark-based search in honeybees. Honeybees in the experimental group were trained in Phase 1 with a single landmark in a constant spatial relation to the target (sugar water). In the compound training second phase, the landmark used in Phase 1 (blocking landmark) and a new landmark (blocked landmark) were presented at constant spatial relations to the target. The blocking and blocked landmarks differed from each other in color and position, and the blocking landmark retained the same spatial relationship to the target as in Phase 1. In Experiment 1, the control group experienced only Phase 2 training with two landmarks. In Experiment 2, the control group was trained with a different landmark in a different position in Phase 1. Blocking was found in both cases.
... Savastano, and Miller (2000) involving the effects of biological significance on overshadowing. Biologically significant cues are stimuli that control behavior because they have either inherent or acquired motivational value (Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;Gunther, Miller, & Matute, 1997;Oberling, Bristol, Gunther, & Miller, 1999). For example, high-intensity stimuli which are inherently biologically significant have been shown to be protected from overshadowing and blocking effects compared to lower-intensity stimuli that are typically used. ...
... Recently, Sharpe et al. (2017a) demonstrated that SPC can fall prey to the blocking effect (see Figure 2; see also Denniston et al., 1996;Blaisdell et al., 1998). In a blocking procedure (see Figure 2A), a stimulus (e.g., tone) is established as food predictive. ...
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Higher-order conditioning involves learning causal links between multiple events, which then allows one to make novel inferences. For example, observing a correlation between two events (e.g., a neighbor wearing a particular sports jersey), later helps one make new predictions based on this knowledge (e.g., the neighbor’s wife’s favorite sports team). This type of learning is important because it allows one to benefit maximally from previous experiences and perform adaptively in complex environments where many things are ambiguous or uncertain. Two procedures in the lab are often used to probe this kind of learning, second-order conditioning (SOC) and sensory preconditioning (SPC). In second-order conditioning (SOC), we first teach subjects that there is a relationship between a stimulus and an outcome (e.g., a tone that predicts food). Then, an additional stimulus is taught to precede the predictive stimulus (e.g., a light leads to the food-predictive tone). In sensory preconditioning (SPC), this order of training is reversed. Specifically, the two neutral stimuli (i.e., light and tone) are first paired together and then the tone is paired separately with food. Interestingly, in both SPC and SOC, humans, rodents, and even insects, and other invertebrates will later predict that both the light and tone are likely to lead to food, even though they only experienced the tone directly paired with food. While these processes are procedurally similar, a wealth of research suggests they are associatively and neurobiologically distinct. However, midbrain dopamine, a neurotransmitter long thought to facilitate basic Pavlovian conditioning in a relatively simplistic manner, appears critical for both SOC and SPC. These findings suggest dopamine may contribute to learning in ways that transcend differences in associative and neurological structure. We discuss how research demonstrating that dopamine is critical to both SOC and SPC places it at the center of more complex forms of cognition (e.g., spatial navigation and causal reasoning). Further, we suggest that these more sophisticated learning procedures, coupled with recent advances in recording and manipulating dopamine neurons, represent a new path forward in understanding dopamine’s contribution to learning and cognition.
... Inflation effects (e.g., backward blocking) have been much more elusive with animal subjects (e.g., Miller et al., 1990). Denniston et al. (1996;see also Miller & Matute, 1996) have proposed a solution to this quandary. They suggest that biologically significant stimuli are resistant against cue-competition effects, as well as the attenuating effects of posttraining comparator inflation (e.g., backward blocking and overexpectation). ...
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In four Pavlovian conditioned lick-suppression experiments, rats had two conditioned stimuli (CSs X and A) independently paired with footshock, followed by pairings of a compound of A and X with the footshock. On subsequent tests with CS X, less conditioned suppression was observed than in control subjects that lacked the compound AX→footshock trials. Thisoverexpectation effect was reversed through posttraining extinction of CS A, a result consistent with both performance- and acquisition-focused models of retrospective revaluation. However, only performance-focused models could account for how posttraining increases or decreases in the A-footshock temporal interval attenuate the overexpectation effect.
... However, there is another interpretation. We know that biologically salient stimuli are not subject to cue competition in some forms of learning (e.g., classical conditioning), although less salient stimuli are (Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;. Similarly, geometric information may be immune from overshadowing in situations in which it is very salient, that is, instantiated with maximum power and minimum uncertainty. ...
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The purpose of this chapter is to discuss two views of the development of spatial reorientation--modularity-plus-language and adaptive combination--concentrating particularly on the issue that most clearly demarcates them: modularity. First, we discuss what is meant by the term "module." It is a term in very widespread use, but different people mean quite different things by it. Second, we describe in greater detail the evidence favoring the geometric module hypothesis and the further hypothesis that it can be augmented by spatial language (for a more extended review, see Cheng & Newcombe, 2005). Third, we present reasons to doubt the modularity-plus-language view. Fourth, we consider how an adaptive combination approach would describe the known phenomena, what predictions it would make, and how it would address potential criticisms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
... For example, a highly salient stimulus in a system might not suffer cue competition from other stimuli used by that system. Something to this effect has been reported in the realm of classical conditioning (Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996). Empirically, from the perspective of cognitive map theory, Hardt, Hupbach, and Nadel (2009) have found that human adults do not show blocking phenomena between two sets of landmarks, even when one set is redundant to the other, in conditions that encourage exploration of the environment. ...
Article
The purpose of this article is to review and evaluate the range of theories proposed to explain findings on the use of geometry in reorientation. We consider five key approaches and models associated with them and, in the course of reviewing each approach, five key issues. First, we take up modularity theory itself, as recently revised by Lee and Spelke (Cognitive Psychology, 61, 152-176, 2010a; Experimental Brain Research, 206, 179-188, 2010b). In this context, we discuss issues concerning the basic distinction between geometry and features. Second, we review the view-matching approach (Stürzl, Cheung, Cheng, & Zeil, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 34, 1-14, 2008). In this context, we highlight the possibility of cross-species differences, as well as commonalities. Third, we review an associative theory (Miller & Shettleworth, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 33, 191-212, 2007; Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 34, 419-422, 2008). In this context, we focus on phenomena of cue competition. Fourth, we take up adaptive combination theory (Newcombe & Huttenlocher, 2006). In this context, we focus on discussing development and the effects of experience. Fifth, we examine various neurally based approaches, including frameworks proposed by Doeller and Burgess (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105, 5909-5914, 2008; Doeller, King, & Burgess, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105, 5915-5920, 2008) and by Sheynikhovich, Chavarriaga, Strösslin, Arleo, and Gerstner (Psychological Review, 116, 540-566, 2009). In this context, we examine the issue of the neural substrates of spatial navigation. We conclude that none of these approaches can account for all of the known phenomena concerning the use of geometry in reorientation and clarify what the challenges are for each approach.
... The similar sensitivity to temporal factors exhibited by cue competition effects (i.e., interference between cues trained together) and retroactive interference effects suggests that they are the result of a common underlying process. This hypothesis is also supported by the observation that these two phenomena are similarly affected by the biological relevance of the competing (e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;) or the interfering (e.g., Escobar, Matute, & Miller, 2001) cues and that responding to the target cue in both procedures is restored by extinguishing the competing (e.g., Arcediano, Escobar, & Matute, 2001; Blaisdell, Gunther, & Miller, 1999; Kaufman & Bolles, 1981; Matzel, Schachtman, & Miller, 1985) or the interfering (e.g., Amundson, Escobar, & Miller, in press; see the introduction for elaboration ) cue. Indeed, both cue competition and interference effects reflect attenuated responding to a target cue– outcome association, due to training a competing cue– outcome association. ...
Article
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Retroactive interference is conventionally viewed as attenuated retrieval of a target association due to the training of a second association between training and testing of the target association. In three experiments in which water-deprived rats were used as subjects, we manipulated the durations of the time between cue termination and outcome onset (Experiment 1), the durations of the target and the interfering cues (Experiment 2), and the durations of the outcome used during target and interfering training (Experiment 3). Greater interference was consistently observed between associations bearing a high degree of similarity in their temporal structure, which suggests that interference occurs between complex representations that encode not only the physical attributes of the stimuli, but also their temporal characteristics.
... However, it implies that attenuation of the strong impact of initial experience by some means may set the occasion for observation of retrospective inference. Miller and Matute (1996) and Denniston, Miller, and Matute (1996) demonstrated backward blocking by using a sensory preconditioning procedure in which the biological impact of the initial training was supposed to be weak. Although this demonstration seems to validate the argument of Baker and Mercier, the utility of the output-based model of Pavlovian conditioning in the usual settings is still questionable. ...
Article
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Three experiments explored the possibility of retrospective inference in the rat. Experiment 1 revealed that poisoning of an element of a taste compound after single compound poisoning enhanced aversion to the other element, and that presentation of an element without poison after the compound poisoning reduced aversion to the other element. These results were opposite to those predicted by retrospective inference. Experiment 2 eliminated some confounding variables and examined the effect of element poisoning after compound poisoning. The result again was opposite to what the retrospective view predicts. The results, however, accorded with the idea that within-compound learning was established during compound presentation, and subsequent poisoning or nonpoisoning of one element affected response to the other element via the within-compound learning. In Experiment 3, the possibility of within-compound learning was reduced by using sequential presentation of tastes, but there was no indication of retrospective inference even under this condition.
... Retrospective revaluation is the processing of information concerning a previously trained stimulus on a trial during which that stimulus is absent. The associative retrospective revaluation of stimuli has been observed in humans making causal judgments (which, in many respects , appears to obey the rules of Pavlovian conditioning: e.g., Chapman, 1991; Dickinson & Burke, 1996; Shanks, 1985; Van Hamme, 1994; Williams, Sagness, & McPhee, 1994 ) as a result of posttraining extinction (deflation ) and inflation of competing causes, and in animal Pavlovian conditioning as a result of posttraining extinction (deflation) of competing stimuli (Barnet et al., 1993; Cole et al., 1995; Kaufman & Bolles, 1981; Matzel, Brown, & Miller, 1987; Matzel et al., 1985; Matzel, Shuster, & Miller, 1987) and, under select conditions, as a result of posttraining inflation of competing stimuli (Denniston et al., 1996; ). The occurrence of retrospective revaluation with Pavlovian procedures is contrary to the predictions of the Rescorla– Wagner (1972) model. ...
Article
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Extinction-induced attenuation of single-phase and two-phase blocking was examined with rats in a conditioned lick-suppression task. In Experiment 1, which compared the effectiveness of single- and two-phase blocking, it was found that single-phase blocking was facilitated by the initiation of training with an A-US trial rather than an AX-US trial. Single-phase (but not two-phase) blocking was attenuated as a result of 200 extinction trials with the blocking stimulus (Experiment 2). Experiment 3 revealed recovery from two-phase blocking after 800 extinction trials with the blocking stimulus. Recovery from both types of blocking was specific to the blocked CS trained in compound with the extinguished stimulus (Experiment 4). This is the first article to report that the blocking deficit can be reversed by extinguishing the blocking stimulus. These results are discussed in light of acquisition models (i.e., retrospective revaluation) and expression models (i.e., the comparator hypothesis).
... Recent cue-competition experiments with both human (e.g., Matute, Arcediano, & Miller, 1996;Wasserman & Berglan, 1998) and animal subjects (e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;Esmoris-Arranz, Miller, & Matute, 1997;; see also Miller, Barnet, & Grahame, 1995 for an overview) also obtained results for which the Rescorla-Wagner model offers no explanation. These experiments provide evidence for cue-competition between subsequent events and backward blocking. ...
... The present and other related findings (e.g., Lipp, Siddle, & Dall, 1993; Matute & Pineño, 1998a, 1998b Packer & Siddle, 1989; Siddle, Broekhuizen, & Packer, 1990) could seem to suggest that similar results should also be observed in animal research as well if one tested it carefully. However , it has been shown that other forms of retrospective revaluation using compound training (e.g., backward blocking) are hard to obtain in rats because , among other reasons, the stimuli that are used as outcomes in animal research are generally stimuli of high biological significance (i.e., unconditioned stimuli or USs) rather than the neutral stimuli used as outcomes in human research (Denniston et al., 1996;). Following these ideas, Escobar, Matute, and Miller (in press) have recently tested whether the effect of interference between elementally trained cues reported here and elsewhere could also be obtained in rats using as outcomes either USs or neutral stimuli (i.e., through the use of sensory preconditioning). ...
Article
Recent research has shown that the acquisition of a second cue–outcome association can interfere with responding appropriate to a previously acquired association between another cue and the same outcome, even if the two cues had never received compound training (Matute & Pineño, 1998a). This is similar to other results in the paired-associate literature but it is problematic for associative theories of learning because all of them assume that compound training is necessary for cues to interfere with each other. However, given several assumptions, a recent revision of Wagner's (1981) SOP model proposed by Dickinson and Burke (1996) could account for most of the data available on interference between elementally trained cues. According to the modified SOP model, the target cue that is paired with the outcome during Phase 1 could acquire an inhibitory association with the outcome during the Phase 2 trials in which the interfering cue is trained and the target cue is absent. This inhibitory association could be responsible for the weak responding observed to the target cue during testing because it could interfere with the excitatory association acquired during Phase 1. If this is true, interference should be weaker as the number of Phase 2 interfering trials is reduced. However, the three experiments reported here show that interference can occur even when only one interfering trial is given during Phase 2. The results of these experiments, along with other results in the literature, add support to the idea that interference between elementally trained cues occurs during retrieval and that it is not due to the formation of inhibitory associations between an absent cue and the outcome.
... Given the undefined relevance of the conventional and/or arbitrary stimuli used in studies with humans (e.g., operant equivalence studies), less cue competition effects (higher probability of conditioning of A and X) may be expected. However, a study by Denniston, Miller and Matute (1996) provides evidence to the contrary; that is, the authors suggest that higher biological significance protects against cue competition effects such as blocking and overshadowing (see also Oberling, Bristol, Matute & Miller, 2000). ...
Article
This study examines if the blocking effect paradigm predicts causal judgments when consequences of events vary in valence and magnitude. The procedure consists on presenting participants with reports describing the positive or negative effects produced by different substances, when these are consumed either separately or simultaneously with others. Two groups of participants were exposed to high and low magnitude consequences, respectively. The extent to which behavior with respect to causal judgments is consistent with the predictions of the blocking effect was evaluated in in both groups using two types of questions. One of them asked whether or not substance X produced the effect, while the other one asked about the probability of substance X producing the effect. Differences in causal judgments as a product of logical or intuitive reasoning were examined. Even though the blocking effect was not observed, a significant interaction was obtained between the factors valence and experimental condition (blocking and control). Findings are discussed in terms of the differences between associative learning in humans and in non-human animals, and in terms of the theoretical differences between evaluative conditioning and predictive or causal conditioning.
... Rather, we used a renewal-like procedure (without a renewal control condition) to assess whether training in multiple contexts modulated cue interference in a manner similar to that seen in outcome interference. In both experiments, we used a sensory preconditioning procedure, because retroactive cue interference is severely attenuated if the target cue acquires high biological significance in phase 1 (i.e., prior to the interference treatment; Escobar et al., 2001b), which appears to be an instance of the general difficulty of attenuating through indirect means the response to a cue that has already acquired the potential to elicit a vigorous response (e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996). ...
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Retroactive cue interference refers to situations in which a target cue X is paired with an outcome in phase 1 and a nontarget cue Z is paired with the same outcome in phase 2, with less subsequent responding to X being seen as a result of the phase 2 training. Two conditioned suppression experiments with rats were conducted to determine whether retroactive cue interference is similarly modulated by a manipulation that influences retroactive outcome interference (e.g., extinction). Both experiments used an ABC renewal-like design in which phase 1 training, phase 2 training, and testing each occurred in different contexts. Experiment 1 found that training the target association in multiple contexts without altering the number of training trials during phase 1 decreased retroactive cue interference (i.e., increased responding consistent with the target association). Experiment 2 found that training the interfering association in multiple contexts without altering the number of interference trials during phase 2 increased retroactive cue interference (i.e., decreased responding consistent with the target association). The possibility of similar mechanisms underlying cue interference and outcome interference is discussed.
... A number of influential publications followed (Bolles, 1970;Rozin & Kalat, 1971;Seligman, 1970;Shettleworth, 1972), and such proponents of biological constraints would remain a thorn in the side of learning theorists' attempts to formulate future general process learning models (e.g., Rescorla & Wagner, 1972). For instance, the well-established effects of cue competition, such as overshadowing and blocking, are often attenuated when using biologically significant cues (Blaisdell, Denniston, Savastano, & Miller, 2000;Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;Oberling, Bristol, Matute, & Miller, 2000). In his 2005 piece for the Annual Review of Psychology, Domjan (2005) did well to summarize contemporary understanding concerning biological constraints on learning: ...
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Deeply rooted within the history of experimental psychology is the search for general laws of learning that hold across tasks and species. Central to this enterprise has been the notion of equipotentiality; that any two events have the same likelihood of being associated with one another as any other pair of events. Much work, generally summarized as ‘biological constraints on learning,’ has challenged this view, and demonstrates pre-existing relations between cues and outcomes, based on genes and prior experience, that influence potential associability. Learning theorists and comparative psychologists have thus recognized the need to consider how the evolutionary history as well as prior experience of the organism being studied influences its ability to learn about and navigate its environment. We suggest that current models of human memory, and human memory research in general, lack sufficient consideration of how human evolution has shaped human memory systems. We review several findings that suggest the human memory system preferentially processes information relevant to biological fitness, and highlight potential theoretical and applied benefits afforded by adopting this functionalist perspective.
... Cue competition effects are several empirically relevant effects in Pavlovian conditioning, which refer to conditioning procedures where more than one stimulus is paired with the same US in each trial. Thus, the stimuli ''compete'' for the associative strength during the trial (e.g., Kamin, 1969;Mackintosh, 1971;Denniston et al., 1996;Pearce et al., 2006). When two stimuli are presented together during conditioning and are equally salient (e.g., stimulus A and B), it is generally observed that both become conditioned to a similar extent. ...
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This study aimed to test whether male and female rats might show differences in cue competition effects in a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) model. Experiment 1 tested for sex differences in overshadowing. After conditioning of a flavored compound AB or only one simple flavor A (being A and B a solution of sugar 10% and salt 1%, counterbalanced), consumption of the A solution at test was larger in the former than in the latter case only in males. Thus, the usual effect of overshadowing was observed in males but not in females. Experiment 2 examined sex differences in blocking with the same stimuli used in Experiment 1. After conditioning of AB, the consumption of B was larger for the animals that previously received a single conditioning trial with A than for those that received unpaired presentations of A and the illness. As observed in Experiment 1, the typical blocking effect appeared only in males but not in females. The present findings thus support the hypothesis that sex dimorphism might be expressed in classical conditioning, or at least, in cue competition effects such as overshadowing and blocking with a taste aversion model.
... Our simulations above demonstrate the ability of the model to explain stimulus competition effects such as blocking and overshadowing. As other Bayesian models of associative learning, the model is also capable of explaining so-called retrospective revaluation effects, such as unovershadowing and backward blocking (e.g., Chapman, 1991;Chapman & Robbins, 1990;Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;Shanks, 1985;Urcelay, Perelmuter, & Miller, 2008;Wasserman & Berglan, 1998). Retrospective revaluation refers to a group of experimental observations indicating that humans and animals are able to update their knowledge about some events even in the absence of those events. ...
Article
How do we apply learning from one situation to a similar, but not identical, situation? The principles governing the extent to which animals and humans generalize what they have learned about certain stimuli to novel compounds containing those stimuli vary depending on a number of factors. Perhaps the best studied among these factors is the type of stimuli used to generate compounds. One prominent hypothesis is that different generalization principles apply depending on whether the stimuli in a compound are similar or dissimilar to each other. However, the results of many experiments cannot be explained by this hypothesis. Here, we propose a rational Bayesian theory of compound generalization that uses the notion of consequential regions, first developed in the context of rational theories of multidimensional generalization, to explain the effects of stimulus factors on compound generalization. The model explains a large number of results from the compound generalization literature, including the influence of stimulus modality and spatial contiguity on the summation effect, the lack of influence of stimulus factors on summation with a recovered inhibitor, the effect of spatial position of stimuli on the blocking effect, the asymmetrical generalization decrement in overshadowing and external inhibition, and the conditions leading to a reliable external inhibition effect. By integrating rational theories of compound and dimensional generalization, our model provides the first comprehensive computational account of the effects of stimulus factors on compound generalization, including spatial and temporal contiguity between components, which have posed long-standing problems for rational theories of associative and causal learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
... Si bien algunos estudios sugieren que al utilizar el procedimiento inverso de bloqueo no se observa el efecto en animales pero sí en humanos (Denniston, Miller & Matute, 1996), los estudios con humanos que comparan los efectos de estos dos ...
Article
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The blocking effect describes a circumstance which impedes function transfer among events that are part of a relation of spatiotemporal contiguity. However, theoretical and empirical evidence in stimulus class acquisition predicts that the blocking effect should not be observed even if some of the stimuli in the class are presented simultaneously as compound stimuli. The present study examines if additional A-EI training, whether prior or following training with a compound sample AX, constitutes a critical variable in the occurrence of the blocking effect. Performances in blocking tests by a group exposed to the blocking procedure, a group exposed to the backward blocking procedure and a control group were compared. Findings suggest that additional training with one member of the compound does not impede responding to all stimuli as members of the class. Instances where the blocking effect was observed are interpreted in terms of configural and elemental types of responding.
... The dimensions of the kite-and rectangle-shaped arenas were the same as reported for Experiment 2. The square arena had a perimeter of 54m (each wall: 13.5 m). A number of experiments have observed an attenuation, or a complete absence, of blocking when the to-be-blocked cue is of a higher salience than the blocking cue (e.g., Denniston, Miller, & Matute, 1996;Denton & Kruschke, 2006;Hall, Mackintosh, Goodall, & Dal Martello, 1977;. In order to protect the present experiment from this effect, we reduced the salience of the wall colors, relative to Experiment 2, by making the two different wall colors subtly different shades of pink (RGB: 178, 76, 204) and purple (RGB: 153, 0, 204). ...
Article
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According to the geometric module hypothesis, organisms encode a global representation of the space in which they navigate, and this representation is not prone to interference from other cues. A number of studies, however, have shown that both human and non-human animals can navigate on the basis of local geometric cues provided by the shape of an environment. According to the model of spatial learning proposed by Miller and Shettleworth (2007, 2008), geometric cues compete for associative strength in the same manner as non-geometric cues do. The experiments reported here were designed to test if humans learn about local geometric cues in a manner consistent with the Miller-Shettleworth model. Experiment 1 replicated previous findings that humans transfer navigational behavior, based on local geometric cues, from a rectangle-shaped environment to a kite-shaped environment, and vice versa. In Experiments 2 and 3, it was observed that learning about non-geometric cues blocked, and were blocked by, learning about local geometric cues. The reciprocal blocking observed is consistent with associative theories of spatial learning; however, it is difficult to explain the observed effects with theories of global-shape encoding in their current form. (PsycINFO Database Record
... Si bien algunos estudios sugieren que al utilizar el procedimiento inverso de bloqueo no se observa el efecto en animales pero sí en humanos (Denniston, Miller & Matute, 1996), los estudios con humanos que comparan los efectos de estos dos ...
Article
El fenómeno de bloqueo describe una circunstancia en la cual se impide o se dificulta el la transferencia de funciones entre eventos que se han presentado en una relación de contigüidad espacio-temporal. Desde una perspectiva teórica y empírica, el efecto bloqueo no debería predecirse en la adquisición de clases de estímulos aun cuando algunos de los estímulos de la misma clase se presenten simultáneamente. El presente estudio examina si la historia adicional de entrenamiento A-EI bien sea previa o posterior al entrenamiento con un estímulo muestra compuesto AX, es la variable crítica en la presentación del efecto bloqueo. Los desempeños obtenidos en las pruebas de bloqueo por los participantes de un grupo expuesto al procedimiento de bloqueo, un grupo expuesto al procedimiento de bloqueo invertido, y un grupo control, sugieren que el entrenamiento adicional con un solo elemento del compuesto no impide la inclusión de todos los estímulos dentro de la clase. Los casos en los que se observó el efecto bloqueo se interpretan en términos de tipos de percepciones elementales y configurales.
... Si bien algunos estudios sugieren que al utilizar el procedimiento inverso de bloqueo no se observa el efecto en animales pero sí en humanos (Denniston, Miller & Matute, 1996), los estudios con humanos que comparan los efectos de estos dos ...
Article
The blocking effect describes a circumstance which impedes function transfer among events that are part of a relation of spatiotemporal contiguity. However, theoretical and empirical evidence in stimulus class acquisition predicts that the blocking effect should not be observed even if some of the stimul11n the class are presented simultaneously as compound stimuli. The present study examines if additional A-EI training, whether prior or following training with a compound sample AX, constitutes a critical variable in the occurrence of the blocking effect. Performances in blocking tests by a group exposed to the blocking procedure, a group exposed to the backward blocking procedure and a control group were compared. Findings suggest that additional training with one member of the compound does not impede responding to all stimuli as members of the class. Instances where the blocking effect was observed are interpreted in terms of configural and elemental types of responding.
Article
The nature of interference between cues (X, A) trained apart with a common outcome (O; an unconditioned stimulus) was explored by assessing proactive interference in first-order Pavlovian conditioning (i.e., A-O, X-O, resulting in attenuated responding to X). Three lick-suppression studies were conducted with water-deprived rats. Posttraining extinction of the interfering cue (A) attenuated proactive interference (Experiment 1), which mirrors the observation that extinction of the competing cue can reduce competition between cues trained together (e.g., recovery from overshadowing). Proactive interference was also attenuated with manipulations known to attenuate interference between outcomes trained apart (e.g., counterconditioning), namely reminder cues (Experiment 2) and renewal (Experiment 3). The findings suggest that similar processes underlie interference between cues trained apart, between cues trained together, and between outcomes trained apart.
Article
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Miller and Matute (1996) showed that blocking is attenuated when the blocked conditioned stimulus (CS) is “biologically significant” (i.e., when the CS has the potential to elicit vigorous responding of any kind). To the extent that blocking is representative of cue competition, this finding suggests that biological significance protects CSs against cue competition effects in general. In the present experiments, we tested this possibility by examining the influence of biological significance of CSs on other examples of cue competition, namely, overshadowing, the relative stimulus validity effect, and the degraded contingency effect in rats. In Experiment 1, we found that intense auditory stimuli induced transient unconditioned lick suppression, thereby indicating that intense sounds were of high inherent biological significance. In Experiment 2A, we found that cues with high inherent biological significance were protected from overshadowing. In Experiment 2B, this finding was extended to cues with high acquired biological significance, which was obtained through prior pairings with a reinforcer of the valence opposite to that used in the overshadowing treatment. In Experiments 3 and 4, we found that cues with high inherent biological significance attenuated the relative validity effect and the degraded contingency effect, respectively. These results lend support to the view that biological significance (inherent and acquired) protects stimuli from cue competition effects, a finding that is problematic for many contemporary theories of learning.
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In recent years, several studies of human predictive learning demonstrated better learning about outcomes that have previously been experienced as consistently predictable compared to outcomes previously experienced as less predictable, namely the outcome predictability effect. As this effect may have wide-reaching implications for current theories of associative learning, the present study aimed to examine the generality of the effect with a human goal-tracking paradigm, employing three different designs to manipulate the predictability of outcomes in an initial training phase. In contrast to the previous studies, learning in a subsequent phase, when every outcome was equally predictable by novel cues, was not reliably affected by the outcomes’ predictability in the first phase. This lack of an outcome predictability effect provides insights into the parameters of the effect and its underlying mechanisms.
Article
Appetitive contextual excitation supported by intertrial unconditioned stimuli was more easily overcome by timed conditioned responding in rats using quiet (Experiment 1) rather than noisy (Experiment 2) food pellet deliveries. Head-entry responding in acquisition peaked above the contextual baseline when pellet delivery occurred 10, 30, 60, or 90 s after the onset of the 120-s white-noise conditioned stimulus (CS). Special tests in extinction revealed CS onset and offset were conditioned by pellet delivery at 0 and 120 s, respectively. Responding was not undermined in Experiment 3 when noisy pellet deliveries replaced quiet pellet deliveries. Our results suggest that micro-stimuli occasioned at different times during the CS are vulnerable to overshadowing, but do not lose strength if they are already predictive.
Chapter
IntroductionSome factors affecting the learning processPatch use and probability matchingPerformanceTracking environmental variationCompetitionLearning and fish feeding: some applicationsConclusions Acknowledgements
Chapter
The hypothesis of distinct memory codes proposes that entities belonging to global categories as verbal and spatial representations, or to more specific categories as faces, objects, living or non-living entities, are stored and reactivated in functionally separate memory partitions. In this chapter we will summarize evidence which supports this principle of code-specificity in memory. First, we will briefly review the empirical roots which can be found in Cognitive Psychology, Experimental Neuropsychology, and Clinical Neuropsychology. We will then outline a general neuroscientific theory which explains why code-specific memory representations do most likely exist, and finally, in the main part of the chapter, we will give an overview over recent brain findings that are highly consistent with the idea of code specific storage and retrieval within topographically distinct neural networks.
Article
In two experiments, rats were trained on two operant serial feature positive discriminations in which one feature was a flavored solution and the second feature was a visual or auditory cue. As in a previous study (Goddard & Holland, 1996), transfer of a feature’s control to the target of the other discrimination was not observed when the flavor feature and the reinforcer were flavored sucrose solutions (Experiment 1). The performance of comparison groups showed that this lack of transfer was not due to confounded differences in the event contingencies resulting from having similar stimuli serve as feature and reinforcer. By contrast, in Experiment 2, transfer was observed between visual and flavor features when the flavor feature was unsweetened and the reinforcer was plain sucrose. These results suggest that the lack of transfer in Experiment 1 and in Goddard and Holland’s (1996) study were related to the biological significance or hedonic properties of the sucrose feature.
Article
The capability of the central nervous system (CNS) to adapt its functional and structural organization to current requirements is known as neural plasticity. Such changes can be examined at different organizational levels of the CNS; changes at the molecular-, synaptic-, neural-, system-, and behavioral level are mutually dependent (Shaw & McEachern, 2001). Plastic changes are triggered by learning, e.g., perceptual and motor training and by injuries, e.g., a deafferentation of parts or of all afferents of a sensory system. Moreover, the capacity to change is a characteristic feature of the CNS throughout life although there are qualitative and quantitative differences between developmental and adult plasticity. This chapter reports major findings on training- and lesion-induced plasticity. Results from animal and human research in the somatosensory, auditory, visual and motor system are reviewed and the possibly mechanisms underlying brain plasticity are discussed. Moreover, possible differences between developmental and adult plasticity are considered.
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Three experiments with rats used conditioned suppression of barpress to test predictions of the extended comparator hypothesis, which assumes that the effectiveness of (first-order) comparator stimuli in modulating responding to a target conditioned stimulus (CS) is itself modulated by other (second-order) comparator stimuli. Experiment 1 demonstrated that both pretraining exposure to the target CS alone (i.e., CS-preexposure effect, also known as latent inhibition) and pretraining exposure to a compound of the target CS and nontarget CS (i.e., compound-CS-preexposure effect) counteract overshadowing, and that posttraining deflation (i.e., extinction) of the overshadowing stimulus attenuates responding to the target CS when overshadowing is preceded by a CS-preexposure treatment (i.e., yields a CS-preexposure effect), but not when overshadowing is preceded by a compound-CS-preexposure treatment. Experiment 2 examined the consequences of posttraining associative inflation of the overshadowing stimulus or the preexposure companion stimulus following conjoint compound-CS-preexposure and overshadowing treatment. Experiment 3 examined the consequences of posttraining inflation of the overshadowing stimulus or the context following conjoint CS-alone preexposure and overshadowing treatment. The results support the expression-focused comparator view in contrast to recent acquisition-focused models of retrospective reevaluation.
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Two experiments examined the contributions of feature- and rule-based knowledge in a human associative learning task. Participants were presented with concurrent negative (A → O, B → O, AB → no O) and positive (C → no O, D → no O, CD → O) patterning problems in which certain combinations of foods were associated with an allergy outcome (O). In the test stage, some participants showed normal feature-based generalization to novel trial types, whereas other participants transferred the patterning rule (i.e., a compound and its elements signal opposite outcomes). Mastery of the discrimination presented in the training phase was strongly linked to rule-based generalization. The results suggest that models of human associative learning need to incorporate mechanisms for rule-based as well as for feature-based generalization. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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It is a common assumption of associative theories of learning that no change in the strength of an associative connection between 2 cues is possible in the absence of those cues. However, recently suggested modifications to associative theory (A. Dickinson & J., Burke 1996) have questioned this assumption by arguing that if the representations of 2 cues are simultaneously retrieved from memory, an association will be formed between them even though the cues themselves are not present. A flavor preference procedure was used to find evidence for such associations. In 3 experiments a novel excitatory connection was formed between the representations of peppermint and sucrose in their absence. This suggests that the assumption that cues cannot undergo a change of associative strength in their absence should be abandoned. The tension between the current results and accounts of mediated conditioning is discussed, and some suggestions regarding the difference between the 2 procedures are proposed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Based on the assumption that substitution of functions or function transfer is a fundamental principle underlying all conditioning processes, we attempt to produce an account wherein both operant and respondent events are understood in terms of substitution. We contend that, if event interactions are described in a way that accounts for all the stimulus and response events involved in a contingency relation, and further, if we assume symmetry as a property of substitution of functions as excitatory backward conditioning findings seem to suggest, traditional distinctions between operant and respondent conditioning may be rendered unnecessary. We present a reconceptualization of respondent and operant processes and suggest alternatives for empirical research.
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Conditioned inhibition is a fundamental component of contemporary learning theory. Our selective review of the literature defines the termconditioned inhibitionon three levels—operational, behavioral, and theoretical—in order to evaluate the utility of the construct. Although consensus definitions are found at the operational and behavioral levels, the principal disagreement exists, not surprisingly, at the theoretical level. The comparator hypothesis suggests that the concept of inhibition is superfluous because behavior that is indicative of inhibition can be explained more parsimoniously by noninhibitory theoretical mechanisms. Furthermore, the findings that inhibition is less pervasive than and not always mutually exclusive with excitation suggest that the original view of inhibition as the opposite of conditioned excitation is no longer viable. However, rejection of the original conception of inhibition does not invalidate the theoretical utility of inhibition as a construct in other paradigms (e.g., occasion setting).
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When retrospective revaluation phenomena (e.g., unovershadowing: AB+, then A-, then test B) were discovered, simple elemental models were at a disadvantage because they could not explain such phenomena. Extensions of these models and novel models appealed to within-compound associations to accommodate these new data. Here, we present an elemental, neural network model of conditioning that explains retrospective revaluation apart from within-compound associations. In the model, previously paired stimuli (say, A and B, after AB+) come to activate similar ensembles of neurons, so that revaluation of one stimulus (A-) has the opposite effect on the other stimulus (B) through changes (decreases) in the strength of the inhibitory connections between neurons activated by B. The ventral striatum is discussed as a possible home for the structure and function of the present model.
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In the first phase of Experiment 1 rats were trained with a backward serial conditioned stimulus (CS) with three 8-s elements (Food—Near–Intermediate–Far, where the name of the element denotes its temporal proximity to food). In the second phase of this experiment, different groups received a novel lever presented in compound with a different CS element. In the first phase of Experiment 2, rats were also trained with a similar backward serial CS; but, in the second phase, the entire serial CS was shifted to a forward pairing (Far–Intermediate–Near—Food), and again different groups received a novel lever in compound with a different CS element. In the first phase of Experiment 3, a serial CS was explicitly unpaired with food. The second phase of this experiment was identical to that of Experiment 2. The results showed that lever contact was lowest during the Near element in Experiment 1, highest during the same element in Experiment 2, and indistinguishable among all the elements in Experiment 3. These outcomes support the behavior systems hypothesis that backward CSs come to control a sequence of post-food search modes that can influence subsequent pre-food search.
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Detecting the causal relations among environmental events is an important facet of learning. Certain variables have been identified which influence both human causal attribution and animal learning: temporal priority, temporal and spatial contiguity, covariation and contingency, and prior experience. Recent research has continued to find distinct commonalities between the influence these variables have in the two domains, supporting a neo-Humean analysis of the origins of personal causal theories. The cues to causality determine which event relationships will be judged as causal; personal causal theories emerge as a result of these judgments and in turn affect future attributions. An examination of animal learning research motivates further extensions of the analogy. Researchers are encouraged to study real-time causal attributions, to study additional methodological analogies to conditioning paradigms, and to develop rich learning accounts of the acquisition of causal theories.
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Water-deprived rats served in seven conditioned lick suppression experiments designed to assess the effects on responding to a target CS of a series of unsignaled USs given in the training context following completion of CS training. Such treatment has been hypothesized to increase (inflate) the associative strength of the background cues from training (putatively, the CS’s comparator stimuli), thereby reducing responding to excitatory CSs and increasing the inhibitory potential of inhibitory CSs. Although posttraining extinction (deflation) of the CS’s comparator stimuli usually decreases inhibitory potential and increases excitatory potential of the target CS, posttraining inflation of the comparator stimuli had no effect on either excitatory responding to the target CS or summation test performance indicative of conditioned inhibition. This outcome was consistently obtained across a number of training, inflation, and test conditions selected to maximize sensitivity to any possible effects of comparator inflation. Implications of these null results for the comparator hypothesis of conditionedresponse generationare discussed.
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Two experiments on conditioned suppression in rats examined overshadowing between visual and auditory components of a compound conditioned stimulus. In the first experiment, when one component was markedly more salient than the other, the more salient overshadowed the less salient, but the latter, although acquiring significant associative strength, did not overshadow the former. When the two components were of approximately equal salience, each overshadowed the other. In the second experiment, reciprocal overshadowing was again observed between two equally salient stimuli, but only when their absolute intensities were relatively low. The failure to observe reciprocal overshadowing under all conditions raises problems for those theories of stimulus selection which assume that stimuli compete for some strictly limited resource. It was suggested, instead, that overshadowing might occur when animals fail to learn to attend to, or actually learn to ignore, stimuli that are not uniquely successful predictors of reinforcement.
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Recent research on contingency judgment indicates that the judged predictiveness of a cue is dependent on the predictive strengths of other cues. Two classes of models correctly predict such cue interaction: associative models and statistical models. However, these models differ in their predictions about the effect of trial order on cue interaction. In five experiments reported here, college students viewed trial-by-trial data regarding several medical symptoms and a disease, judging the predictive strength of each symptom with respect to the disease. The results indicate that trial order influences the manner in which cues interact, but that neither the associative nor the statistical models can fully account for the data pattern. A possible variation of an associative account is discussed.
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The study of the mechanism that detects the contingency between events. in both humans and non-human animals, is a matter of considerable research activity. Two broad categories of explanations of the acquisition of contingency information have received extensive evaluation: rule-based models and associative models. This article assesses the two categories of models for human contingency judgments. The data reveal systematic departures in contingency judgments from the predictions of rule-based models. Recent studies indicate that a contiguity model of Pavlovian conditioning is a useful heuristic for conceptualizing human contingency judgments.
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Human and nonhuman animals alike must adjust to complex and ever-changing circumstances if they are to survive and reproduce. Advanced neural mechanisms enable animals to remember the past, to act in the present, and to plan for the future. Exploring the species generality of cognitive processes in behavior is central to the field of comparative cognition. A comparative perspective may not only broaden but also deepen our understanding of cognition—both in human and in nonhuman animals. © 1993, Association for Psychological Science. All rights reserved.
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Three experiments investigated whether a process akin to L. J. Kamin's (1969) blocking effect would occur with human contingency judgments in the context of a video game. 102 students were presented with sets of trials on each of which they could perform a particular action and observe whether the action produced a particular outcome in a situation in which there was an alternative potential cause of the outcome. Exp I showed that prior observation of the relationship between the alternative cause and the outcome did indeed block or reduce learning about the subsequent action-outcome relationship. However, exposure to the relationship between the alternative cause and the outcome after observing the association between the action and the outcome also reduced judgments of the action-outcome contingency (backward blocking), a finding at variance with conditioning theory. In Exp II, it was found that the degree of backward blocking depended on the predictive value of the alternative cause. Finally, Exp III showed that the backward blocking effect was not the result of greater forgetting about the action-outcome relationship in the experimental than in the control condition. Results cast doubt upon the applicability of contemporary theories of conditioning to human contingency judgment.
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Dogs given 200 successive combinations of bell and light will respond with flexion to one of these when the other has been made a conditioned stimulus for flexion by appropriate training with shock. Control animals, which were not given bell and light in combination, did not respond, or responded very infrequently, to the stimulus never presented with shock. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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When 2 cues occur together and reliably predict an outcome, Ss often judge the effect of the compound as reducible to the individual effects of the elements. This elemental processing in predictive learning is perhaps the single most important aspect of most theories of human inference. Surprisingly, selectional processing was not observed in either blocking or conditioned inhibition problems. Only when the learner had past experience with another problem encouraging an elemental strategy were the expected selectional processes observed. These proactive effects of prior learning were abolished if the earlier problem required a nonadditive solution. The results suggest that configural cues were guiding predictive inferences in the absence of elemental processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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An unsalient stimulus, or one imperfectly correlated with reinforcement, may acquire significant control over responding, provided that it is the only available signal for reinforcement, but may fail to acquire control if it is reinforced only in conjunction with a second, more salient or more valid stimulus. A stimulus imperfectly correlated with reinforcement may also lose control over responding if having initially been reinforced in isolation, it is subsequently reinforced only in conjunction with another, more valid stimulus. If the effects of relative salience are to be explained in exactly the same way as those of relative validity, we should expect a similar loss of control by an unsalient stimulus, A, if, after initial consistently reinforced trials to A alone, subjects subsequently receive reinforcement only in the presence of a compound stimulus, A + B. Two experiments on discrete-trial discrimination learning in pigeons and one on conditioned suppression in rats confirm this expectation. The results have implications for theories of selective association in conditioning and discrimination learning.
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The study of the mechanism that detects the contingency between events, in both humans and nonhuman animals, is a matter of considerable research activity. Two broad categories of explanations of the acquisition of contingency information have received extensive evaluation: rule-based models and associative models. This article assess the two categories of models for human contingency judgments. The data reveal systematic departures in contingency judgments from the predictions of rule-based models. Recent studies indicate that a contiguity model of Pavlovian conditioning is a useful heuristic for conceptualizing human contingency judgments.
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This article reviews experimental data from human instrumental learning tasks in which people acquire knowledge about the consequences of their actions. The main part of the paper examines the stimulus conditions which appear to control the acquisition of instrumental knowledge. These conditions include contiguity between the action and outcome, the degree of contingency between them, and also the extent to which the action is a good relative predictor of the outcome. Several accounts are examined of the mechanism by which instrumental knowledge might be acquired, including: (i) a variety of rule-based models, in which learning consists of the acquisition of knowledge about statistical relationships between contingent events; (ii) a relative contiguity model, in which learning involves the acquisition of knowledge about temporal relationships; and (iii) an associative model, in which learning involves the formation of mental associations which are updated by a learning rule. The review indicates that at present, the data seem most consistent with the associative learning model. However, there remain empirical phenomena which have resisted theoretical analysis. A variety of questions which future research might profitably explore are considered.
Associative and statistical accounts of cue competition in causality judgments
  • L J Hamme