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Biological boundaries of learning. The sauce-bearnaise syndrome

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... For example, the smell of foods high in teratogens can elicit nausea and vomiting in pregnant women, which causes the individual to avoid such foods (Fessler 2002;Fessler et al. 2005;Lacroix et al. 2000;Profet 1992;Sherman and Flaxman 2002;Tierson et al. 1986;Weigel and Weigel 1989). Other research has revealed that individuals who become ill as a result of the food they consumed may suffer from conditioned taste aversion (Garcia and Koelling 1966;Garcia and Hankins 1977;Seligman and Hager 1972), which is an increased disgust response to the taste and/or smell of the food they associate with their illness. Conditioned taste aversion is a powerful form of classical conditioning as it often takes only a single pairing between the food and the illness to produce a disgust response toward the particular food which can last for several years (Garcia and Hankins 1977). ...
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Individuals often avoid pathogens by refraining from ingesting things that are associated with pathogen-prevalent stimuli. The present study examined whether individuals would be less likely to ingest water that is associated with pathogen-prevalent environments and whether individuals’ perceptions of water quality would decrease when they believed the water originated from a pathogen-prevalent environment, (even though the water actually did not originate from the indicated source). Across two experiments, undergraduates were asked to taste-test water they believed came from a variety of sources on their college campus. For each cup of water presented to participants, an image of its supposed water source (e.g., kitchen sink, drinking fountain, or bathroom sink) was also presented. Participants drank significantly less water when they believed it came from pathogen-prevalent environments (e.g., restrooms) and rated the water from pathogen-prevalent environments as lower in cleanliness, crispness, quality, and other characteristics when compared to water from environments not associated with pathogens (study 1). Similar results were also found after controlling for perceived cleanliness of the images of water sources (study 2). Ultimately, the results from both studies provide evidence that individuals’ beliefs can influence perception and behavior in a manner consistent with pathogen avoidance.
... This taste for learning is very deeply rooted since taste-aversion learning can be performed while subjects are under deep surgical anesthesia (Bermudez-Rattoni et al., 1988). Such learning in humans often cannot be consciously overridden even if subsequent to the taste-illness pairing it is discovered that the toxicosis was in no way related to the taste (Seligman and Hager, 1972). Studies of postingestive conditioning and odor-aversion learning in the terrestrial slug Limax maximus illustrate the type of results that can be obtained when some invertebrates are challenged with this biologically meaningful learning task. ...
Article
Understanding mechanisms of learning and memory storage in the human brain will contribute to designing strategies for optimizing this functionality in both biological and electronic neural networks. Studies of memory-deficient patients have localized some of the critical brain areas for memory storage and established that different types of information can be stored in anatomically separate locations. Studies of cellular and biochemical events during associative learning in several molluscan neural networks have produced detailed hypotheses about the causative events leading to changes in synaptic function during learning. Use of recently developed preparations of mammalian CNS should allow direct tests of the generality of the molluscan mechanisms for synaptic plasticity during learning in the mammalian brain.
... That is, LTM following the CE-1TT procedure results in a more persistent LTM; (4) CE exposure confers the ability to form LTM on juveniles; (5) The electrophysiological changes observed in the RPeD1 and RPeD11 from both adult and juvenile snails (RPeD1 was more hyperpolarized [less active] whereas RPeD11 was more depolarized) were consistent with the behavioral data and should be considered as neural correlates of enhanced memory formation. One-trial avoidance learning and its subsequent consolidation into LTM occurs in both animals and humans on a regular basis (Davidson, Cook, Glisky, Verfaellie, & Rapcsak, 2005; Garb & Stunkard, 1974; Seligman & Hager, 1972 ). One-trial training resulting in LTM has been described in invertebrate model systems such as Limax (Gelperin, 1975Gelperin, , 1999) and Lymnaea (Alexander, Audesirk, & Audesirk, 1984; Fulton et al., 2005; Kemenes, Kemenes, Andrew, Benjamin, & O'Shea, 2002; Sugai et al., 2007 Sugai et al., , 2006). ...
Article
Memory consolidation following learning is a dynamic process. Thus, long-term memory (LTM) formation can be modulated by many factors, including stress. We examined how predator-induced stress enhances LTM formation in the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis at both the behavioral and electrophysiological levels. Training snails in crayfish effluent (CE; i.e., water from an aquarium containing crayfish) significantly enhanced LTM. That is, while memory persists for only 3h in adult control experiments following a single 0.5-h training session in pond water in which the pneumostome receives a contingent tactile stimulus to the pneumostome; when the snails are trained in CE, the memory persists for at least 24h. In juveniles, the data are more dramatic. Juveniles are unable to form LTM in pond water, but form LTM when trained in CE. Here we examined whether juvenile snails form LTM following a one-trial training procedure (1TT). Following the 1TT procedure (a single-trial aversive operant conditioning training procedure), juveniles do not form LTM, unless trained in CE. Concomitantly, we observe changes in the excitability of RPeD11, a key neuron mediating the whole snail withdrawal response, which may be a neural correlate of enhanced memory formation.
... After eating Bé arnaise sauce for the first time, Seligman suffered an intestinal infection. 238 This incidence conditioned him to avoid the sauce from then on, even though the infection had not been caused by the meal but by a virus. ...
Article
Personal experience, learned eating behaviors, hormones, neurotransmitters, and genetic variations affect food consumption. The decision of what to eat is modulated by taste, olfaction, and oral textural perception. Taste, in particular, has an important input into food preference, permitting individuals to differentiate nutritive and harmful substances and to select nutrients. To be perceived as taste, gustatory stimuli have to contact specialized receptors and channels expressed in taste buds in the oral cavity. Gustatory information is then conveyed via afferent nerves to the central nervous system, which processes the gustatory information at different levels, resulting in stimulus recognition, integration with metabolic needs, and control of ingestive reflexes. This review discusses physiological factors influencing the decision of what to eat, spanning the bow from the recognition of the nutritive value of food in the oral cavity, over the feedback received after ingestion, to processing of gustatory information to the central nervous system. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123983978000150
... The theory further proposes that prepared associations should be easy to acquire and also obey different laws of learning than do nonprepared associations. Prepared associations will be more resistant to extinction relative to nonprepared associations and are less influenced by rational or cognitive input (Seligman and Hager, 1972;Öhman and Mineka, 2001). Although an extensive and critical discussion of the literature on preparedness is beyond the scope of this article, it is worth mentioning that alternative theories to explain resistance to extinction have arisen. ...
... This turbulent environment is mainly one's own social group, which provides individuals with great possibilities, but also the challenges of changeability, unpredictability, and creativity. In the research on human cognitive processes that are determined by evolution, one can point to syndromes of fast learning based on aversive experience and biological bases for conditioning, and the specific character of learning in the processes of primary and secondary socialisation [Seligman, Hager 2004]. ...
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The article is focused on different determinants of family business. It tries to identify paradigms appropriate for such kind of enterprises. The main aim to present the cognitive consequences of paradigms in organizational theory proposed by Gibson Burrell and Gareth Morgan.
... The failure of these insects to learn to avoid morbidity-inducing food sources may also result from internal limitations to their learning ability (Dukas, 1998) or from the nature of the conditioned stimulus (e.g. insecticide), with some stimuli being more associable than others (Garcia & Koelling, 1966;Seligman & Hager, 1972). ...
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The effects of carbon dioxide and the induction of morbidity on aversion learning in larvae of the Pacific Coast wireworm Limonius canus LeConte (Coleoptera: Elateridae) are discussed. Wireworms preconditioned by exposing them one or four times to odour of Tefluthrin 20SC and Dividend XLRTA [Syngenta Crop Protection (Canada), Inc., Canada] during the induction of temporary morbidity subsequently contact tefluthrin-treated wheat seeds in soil bioassays for as long as naïve (i.e. not preconditioned) larvae but are repelled four to five-fold more frequently by Dividend-treated seeds in soil bioassays than naïve wireworms, suggesting that wireworms are capable of associating a novel odour (i.e. Dividend) with morbidity but require a minimum of 10–15 min subsequent contact time with treated seeds before being repelled. Wireworms preconditioned by exposure to peppermint odour during the induction of morbidity are not subsequently repelled by peppermint odour in soil bioassays, suggesting that wireworms are either not capable of aversion learning or that the presence of a CO2 source and/or a suitable host plant may override a negative cue (i.e. peppermint odour). In studies conducted in the absence of soil, a host plant and CO2 production, wireworms are repelled slightly by droplets of 1.0% but not 0.1% peppermint oil. Previous exposure to peppermint odour or contact with peppermint oil-treated filter paper during one induction of morbidity does not increase the repellency of wireworms to 1.0% peppermint oil significantly. Repellency to 1.0% peppermint oil is almost eliminated when morbidity is induced five times in the absence of peppermint odour but is restored when peppermint odour is present during preconditioning. These findings suggest that wireworm sensitivity to repellent compounds decreases when repeatedly made moribund, although the results are not sufficient to conclude that wireworms are capable of associative learning.
Article
During conditioned food aversion — a.k.a. sauce béarnaise syndrome — the ingestion of a spoiled food item leads to a lasting aversion towards cues reminiscent of the item. A new study finds that, in Drosophila, taste aversion depends on the immune system and the mushroom body.
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The rapid taste aversion acquisition, which typically occurs in many species when ingestion of a novel flavor precedes gastrointestinal distress, is retarded by preconditioning familiarity with the CS flavor. This CS familiarity effect (CSFE) might contraindicate taste aversion approaches to alcoholism treatment since alcoholics are quite accustomed to the tastes of alcoholic beverages. However, many alcoholics do develop strong nausea—induced alcohol aversions under appropriate conditioning parameters. Additionally, the CSFE is attenuated in rats by repeated conditioning trials including discrimination training. The present animal experiment was conducted to determine if the CSFE could additionally be weakened by process of forgetting, i.e. by preconditioning withdrawal of a familiar flavor analogous to an alcoholic's ‘drying out’ before psychotherapeutic intervention. Using saccharin as the CS flavor and cyclophosphamide as the conditioning agent, Sprague-Dawley derived rats acquired no aversions when conditioning was attempted immediately after flavor familiarization. However, significant and equivalent saccharin aversions were observed when conditioning was delayed for either 20 or 100 days after familiarization. These findings imply that the efficiency and cost effectiveness of taste aversion approaches to alcoholism treatment might be enhanced by a pretreatment period of abstinence from alcohol ingestion.
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A bibliographic list of 403 articles dealing specifically with conditioned taste aversions from 1950–1975 is provided. In addition, the references are classified according to six major categories in a topical index. The major categories are Parameters of Conditioning, Physiological Manipulations, Pharmacological Interventions, Methodology, Comparative, and General Information. References were obtained from individual journals in psychology, physiology, pharmacology, and animal behavior and were supplemented and extended byPsychological Abstracts. A final source of references was provided by individual researchers who contributed preprints and reprints.
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This article analyzes the effects of lesions to the medial parabrachial nucleus (PBNm) in taste aversion learning (TAL) and taste discrimination tasks (TDT). In the first experiment, control and lesioned rats were presented with a delayed TAL task in which presentation of the gustatory stimulus was followed 15 min later by the intragastric administration of LiCl. In the second experiment, ingestion of the gustatory stimulus was followed immediately by LiCl administration. Control animals successfully learned both tasks, whereas PBNm-lesioned animals learned only the second task. In the third experiment, the animals were subjected to TDT with water, saccharine, and quinine. The lesioned animals ingested significantly different amounts of stimuli from that ingested by control rats, showing a clear preference for high concentrations of saccharine; the lesioned animals rejected high concentrations of quinine to a lesser degree than did control animals. In a fourth experiment, PBNm-lesioned animals were able to solve a delayed TAL task when discriminated gustatory stimuli were used. These results are interpreted as evidence that the PBNm lesion interferes with gustatory processing and that the temporal demands imposed by Experiment I obviate the use of exteroceptive cues.
Chapter
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In this paper we have reviewed the literature on Conditioned Taste Aversion (CTA) with specific attention to the "apparent paradox" in this literature. This paradox refers to the fact that drugs which are self-administered (SA) by animals and are therefore presumed to possess positive reinforcing properties are also endowed with the capacity to induce a CTA. We have argued that the CTA literature contains evidence of the existence of two qualitatively distinct types of CTA, one which is mediated by emetic agents and the other induced by SA drugs. We first provided evidence to support the notion that the traditional explanation of CTA as a function of "drug toxicity" and its resultant gastrointestinal distress does not fit the data on the nature of CTA induced by SA drugs. We proposed instead that "drug shyness" or the novelty of the drug state of these psychoactive SA drugs constitutes a better explanation of the CTA of SA drugs. We provided further evidence suggesting a functional relationship between the positive reinforcing and aversive properties of SA drugs. We have based this contention on a review of the behavioral, physiological and neurochemical data concerning the nature of CTA of SA drugs. The examination of these data reveals that the neural mechanisms underlying both the positive and aversive properties of SA drugs are the same and at the same time different from the neural mechanisms underlying the induction of CTA by emetic agents. Finally, we discussed the relevance of this interaction between the positive and aversive properties of SA drugs in the context of their abuse liability and the control they exert on drug-oriented behavior.
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