Convergent results in eyeblink conditioning and contingency learning in humans: Addition of a common cue does not affect feature-negative discriminations

Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.
Biological psychology (Impact Factor: 3.4). 10/2010; 85(2):207-12. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.07.002
Source: PubMed


Previous human discrimination learning experiments with eyeblink conditioning showed that an increase in the similarity between the to-be-discriminated stimuli had no effect on the rate of learning. This result was at variance with data from other experiments which had used different paradigms and different stimulus materials. We therefore compared human discrimination learning in eyeblink conditioning and contingency learning using carefully matched procedures. Participants learned two feature-negative discriminations, A+/AB- and CD+/CDE-. Convergent results were obtained in both paradigms. Adding a common cue did not affect response differentiation, i.e. the A+/AB- discrimination and the CD+/CDE- discriminations were equivalent. These results support the notion that learning in both paradigms is based on the same principles. However, the overall pattern of results cannot be easily accommodated within associative learning theories based on the Rescorla-Wagner Model or on Pearce's Configural Model. The application of these models to current and previous data is discussed.

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Available from: Steven Glautier, Oct 14, 2014
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    • "For example, in a feature-negative experiment one stimulus is reinforced (A+ trials) but a compound stimulus is non-reinforced (AB− trials). The effects of adding a common feature to these trials, to give AC+ and ABC− trials, differs qualitatively for leading associative models (Thorwart et al., 2010). According to the RWM the common-cue manipulation should make the discrimination between reinforced and non-reinforced trials easier whereas according to an alternative associative model the discrimination should become more difficult (Pearce, 1994). "
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