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Backward blocking: The role of within-compound associations and interference between cues trained apart

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Abstract

Most theoretical accounts of backward blocking place heavy stress on the necessity of the target cue having been trained in compound with the competing cue to produce a decrement in responding. Yet, other evidence suggests that a similar reduction in responding to the target cue can be observed when the outcome is later paired with a novel cue never trained in compound with the target cue (interference between cues trained apart). The present experiment shows that pairing another nonassociated cue with the same outcome may be sufficient to produce a decremental effect on the target cue, but the presence of a within-compound association between the target and the competing cue adds to this effect. Thus, both interference between cues trained apart and within-compound associations independently contribute to backward blocking.

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... To our knowledge, there are only two studies comparing BB and IbC in the same experiment. In one of them, Vadillo, Castro, Matute, and Wasserman (2008) observed a significantly larger effect of BB than of IbC. The authors interpreted this difference as evidence of a true BB effect which would be different from an IbC effect. ...
... Thus, according to the causal reasoning account, BB but not IbC should be observed. In fact, Vadillo et al. (2008) found a greater effect of BB than of IbC, the latter being rather small. This difference was not observed in Escobar et al."s (2002) experiment in which the instructions suggested a diagnostic causal interpretation of the learning task. ...
... To our knowledge, the use of an IbC control in BB experiments has only been carried out in two previous studies in which BB and IbC were compared in the same experiment (Escobar et al., 2002;Vadillo et al., 2008). Whereas BB was found to be significantly greater than IbC in Vadillo et al. (2008), Escobar et al. (2002) reported observing BB and IbC effects of similar magnitude. ...
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Backward blocking (BB) and interference between cues (IbC) are cue competition effects produced by very similar manipulations. In a standard BB design both effects might occur simultaneously, which implies a potential problem to study BB. In the present study with humans, the magnitude of both effects was compared using a non causal scenario and a within subjects design. Previous studies have made this comparison using learning tasks framed within causal scenarios. This posits a limit to generalizing their findings to non-causal learning situations because there is ample evidence showing that participants engage in causal reasoning when tasks are causally framed. The results obtained showed BB and IbC effects of the same magnitude in a non causal framed task. This highlights the methodological need for an IbC control in BB experiments.
... Some prior research has assessed the contribution of retroactive interference between cues to backward blocking in human subjects (e.g., Escobar et al., 2002;Luque et al., 2011;Vadillo et al., 2008; see General Discussion for a brief review of these articles). However, to our knowledge, a systematic assessment of the contribution of proactive associative interference to forward blocking has never been conducted. ...
... Several prior studies conducted in the framework of human associative interference have recognized that the retroactive cue interference procedure is built into the backward blocking procedure, and have compared backward blocking to retroactive cue interference in the same experiment Luque et al., 2010;Vadillo et al., 2008). Escobar et al. (2002), using a causal learning task, as well as Luque et al. (2011), using a noncausal contingency task, found backward blocking to be similar in magnitude to retroactive interference between cues, suggesting that the empirical backward blocking they observed was due entirely to retroactive cue interference rather than cue competition. ...
... Escobar et al. (2002), using a causal learning task, as well as Luque et al. (2011), using a noncausal contingency task, found backward blocking to be similar in magnitude to retroactive interference between cues, suggesting that the empirical backward blocking they observed was due entirely to retroactive cue interference rather than cue competition. However, Vadillo et al. (2008), also using a casual learning task, found backward blocking to be stronger than retroactive cue interference, and Luque et al. (2010) observed spontaneous recovery from retroactive cue interference but not from blocking when a delay was imposed between training and testing. Thus, these latter two studies suggest that the empirical backward blocking that they observed was due only in part to retroactive cue interference. ...
Article
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Blocking (i.e., reduced responding to cue X following YX-outcome pairings in Phase 2 as a consequence of cue Y having been paired with the outcome in Phase 1) is one of the signature phenomena in Pavlovian conditioning. Its discovery promoted the development of multiple associative models, most of which viewed blocking as an instance of pure cue competition (i.e., a decrease in responding attributable to training two conditioned stimuli in compound). Two experiments are reported in which rats were examined in a fear conditioning paradigm (i.e., lick suppression), and context dependency of retrieval at test was used as an index of associative cue interference (i.e., a decrease in responding to a target cue as a result of training a second cue with the same outcome but without concurrent presentation of the two cues). Specifically, we observed renewal of forward-blocking which parallels renewal of proactive interference, and renewal of backward-blocking which parallels renewal of retroactive interference. Thus, both backward-blocking (Experiment 1, embedded in a sensory preconditioning design) and forward-blocking (Experiment 2, conducted in first-order conditioning) appear to be influenced by retroactive and proactive interference, respectively, as well as cue competition. Consequently, blocking, long regarded as a benchmark example of pure cue competition, is sometimes a hybrid of cue competition and associative interference. Finally, the Discussion considers whether stimulus competition and associative interference are two independent phenomena or products of a single underlying process. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... For example, several types of revaluation findings have been shown in human learning research, and of prime importance for the current purposes is the phenomenon of "unovershadowing". For instance, Wasserman and Berglan (1998; see also Vadillo, Castro, Matute, & Wasserman, 2008) found that judgements concerning the causal effectiveness of an element in a compound stimulus were enhanced if subsequent extinction training occurred with the other element present in the compound (see also Kaufman & Bolles, 1981;Matzel, Schachtman, & Miller, 1985, for similar results with nonhumans). Such results have theoretical significance, and several different accounts have been put forward to explain them, such as a modified 2 THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY, 2012, 00 (0) REED, REYNOLDS, FERMANDEL standard operating procedures (SOP) model (e.g., Dickinson & Burke, 1996) and a comparator view (Miller & Matzel, 1988;see Reed, 2011, for a discussion in this context). ...
... However, they also show that this overselectivity effect can be removed by the revaluation of the previously most selected stimulus. That such a revaluation effect occurs is consistent with previous demonstrations of revaluation in nonhumans using a somewhat similar procedure (Kaufman & Bolles, 1981;Matzel et al., 1985) and with those from humans using quite different procedures (e.g., Vadillo et al., 2008;Wasserman & Berglan, 1998). In the context of overselectivity, these results are difficult for a strict attention-based view to accommodate. ...
... However, this effect can be removed by the revaluation of the previously most selected stimulus. That such a revaluation effect occurs is consistent with previous demonstrations of revaluation in humans Vadillo et al., 2008;Wasserman & Berglan, 1998). It also confirms that the attention-based view of overselectivity cannot easily accommodate all aspects of the effect. ...
Article
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Stimulus overselectivity occurs when only one of potentially many aspects of the environment controls behaviour. In four experiments, human participants were trained and tested on a trial-and-error simultaneous discrimination task involving two two-element compound stimuli. Overselectivity emerged in all experiments (i.e., one element from the reinforced compound controlled behaviour at the expense of the other). Following revaluation (extinction) of the previously overselected stimulus, behavioural control by the underselected stimulus element emerged without any direct training of that stimulus element. However, while a series of extinction manipulations targeting the revaluation of the overselected stimulus produced differential extinction of that stimulus, they did not result in differential emergence of the previously underselected stimuli. The results are discussed with respect to the theoretical implications for attention-based accounts of overselectivity.
... Por último, debe destacarse que hay estudios en los que la competición de claves y la interferencia entre claves entrenadas por separado se dan en un mismo experimento y bajo las mismas condiciones. Por ejemplo, Escobar, Pineño y Matute (2002) y Vadillo, Castro, Matute y Wasserman (2008) obtuvieron interferencia y bloqueo hacia atrás en un mismo experimento, concluyendo que tal vez parte de la competición de claves podría deberse a la presencia de la interferencia. Otros experimentos (véase Vadillo, Orgaz y Matute, 2008) muestran como interactúan ambos efectos de forma que una clave expuesta a competición (concretamente, a ensombrecimiento) pierde su capacidad para interferir retroactivamente con otra clave. ...
... Por ejemplo, Escobar, Pineño y Matute (2002) y Vadillo, Castro, Matute y Wasserman (2008) obtuvieron interferencia y bloqueo hacia atrás en un mismo experimento, concluyendo que tal vez parte de la competición de claves podría deberse a la presencia de la interferencia. Otros experimentos (véase Vadillo, Orgaz y Matute, 2008) muestran como interactúan ambos efectos de forma que una clave expuesta a competición (concretamente, a ensombrecimiento) pierde su capacidad para interferir retroactivamente con otra clave. En resumen, todos estos estudios muestran que la competición de claves y la interferencia entre claves entrenadas por separado se comportan de forma similar ante las mismas condiciones experimentales, pueden obtenerse con la misma preparación e interactúan entre sí, lo que sirve de apoyo a la hipótesis de que ambas comparten procesos subyacentes comunes. ...
... Por ejemplo , este modelo no puede explicar por qué la interferencia entre claves se cancela con el entrenamiento masificado o al combinarla con un tratamiento de contingencia degradada (Wheeler y Miller, 2007). Y tampoco explica por qué la historia previa de una clave que ha sufrido un tratamiento de competición de claves afecta a su capacidad para actuar como clave interfiriente (Vadillo, Orgaz y Matute, 2008). Tal vez el modelo actual que más fácilmente pueda adaptarse para explicar toda esta variedad de resultados sea la hipótesis del comparador, desarrollada por Miller y sus colegas (Denniston, Savastano y Miller, 2001; Miller y Matzel, 1988; Stout y Miller, 2007) para dar cuenta de los fenómenos de competición de claves. ...
... 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). ...
... Presumably, the associative status of the interfering association was greater with more A-O trials. The observed decrease in behavioral control by X when the interfering cue A was further reinforced parallels retrospective revaluation phenomena often reported in cue competition when there is additional reinforcement of the competing cue by itself (e.g., Balleine et al., 2005;Denniston et al., 1996;Luque et al., 2011;Vadillo et al., 2008). ...
Article
Full-text available
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.
... Given the impact of these phenomena on learning theories and models, such an issue deserves more effort and attention. As an exception, we should mention the experiments reported by Escobar et al. (2002) and Vadillo et al. (2008), in which BB and IbC conditions were directly compared with the same control condition in the same experiment. However, these previous studies have two shortcomings . ...
... The difference in magnitude could be caused by a single mechanism which is sensitive to specific differences between the procedures used to obtain BB and IbC. Second, it seems that this strategy has not provided a clear pattern of results since whereas Escobar et al. (2002, Experiment 2) found similar IbC and BB effects, Vadillo et al. (2008) found BB to be larger than IbC. The aim of the present experiment is to provide more compelling evidence that BB and IbC are produced by different mechanisms. ...
Article
In the present study, we examined the differential effect on backward blocking (BB) and on interference between cues (IbC) of including a delay right before the test phase vs. between training phases 1 and 2 in humans. While models of IbC predict a spontaneous recovery (SR) of responding if the delay is placed immediately before the test instead of between phases 1 and 2, BB models predict that no difference should be observed due to the position of the delay. In our experiment, we obtained the SR from IbC but not from BB. These results suggest that backward blocking and interference between cues are likely to be the result of different processes.
... Aunque no todas las demostraciones de interferencia entre claves han empleado la tarea de la radio espía, en casi todas esas demostraciones la estructura de las tareas empleadas es equivalente a lo aquí que acabamos de describir (véase Luque, Moris, Cobos y López, en prensa , para más detalle). No obstante, recientemente se han obtenido resultados que muestran la existencia de interferencia entre claves en situaciones predictivas (véase Vadillo, Castro, Matute y Wasserman, 2008). En concreto en una tarea en la que las claves eran diferentes alimentos (causas) que podían producir como resultado diferentes reacciones alérgicas (efectos). ...
Article
Full-text available
Retroactive interference between cues trained apart was long ago studied in the psychology of memory, within the paired associate tradition. Current theories of learning, however, predict that interference between cues should not occur if they are trained elementally. Here we review the available evidence on retroactive interference between cues trained apart and show that this effect is very similar to other, classical effects, in the area of learning, such as interference between outcomes and competition between cues. We suggest that a stronger connection between these research areas is important, as common mechanisms are quite possibly responsible for all these effects. Finally, we discuss whether associative or the causal inference mechanisms currently studied in the area of learning could provide a satisfactory explanation for these effects. La interferencia retroactiva entre claves entrenadas elementalmente fue en su día un fenómeno muy estudiado en la psicología de la memoria, dentro de la tradición de los pares asociados. Sin embargo, las teorías actuales del aprendizaje predicen que no debería ocurrir interferencia entre claves si estas se entrenan por separado. En este trabajo revisamos la evidencia disponible y mostramos que la interferencia entre claves tiene enormes similitudes con otros efectos clásicos del aprendizaje, especialmente con los efectos de interferencia entre resultados y de competición entre claves. Postulamos, por tanto, que tiene sentido establecer una mayor conexión entre todas estas áreas de investigación y plantear que es muy posible que todos estos efectos sean debidos a mecanismos comunes. Finalmente discutimos si los procesos asociativos o los procesos de inferencia causal que se estudian actualmente en la psicología del aprendizaje podrían dar cuenta de estos efectos.
... Aunque no todas las demostraciones de interferencia entre claves han empleado la tarea de la radio espía, en casi todas esas demostraciones la estructura de las tareas empleadas es equivalente a lo aquí que acabamos de describir (véase Luque, Moris, Cobos y López, en prensa , para más detalle). No obstante, recientemente se han obtenido resultados que muestran la existencia de interferencia entre claves en situaciones predictivas (véase Vadillo, Castro, Matute y Wasserman, 2008). En concreto en una tarea en la que las claves eran diferentes alimentos (causas) que podían producir como resultado diferentes reacciones alérgicas (efectos). ...
Article
Retroactive interference between cues trainedapart was long ago studied in the psychology ofmemory, within the paired associate tradition. Currenttheories of learning, however, predict that interferencebetween cues should not occur if they are trained elementally.Here we review the available evidence onretroactive interference between cues trained apart andshow that this effect is very similar to other, classicaleffects, in the area of learning, such as interference betweenoutcomes and competition between cues. We suggestthat a stronger connection between these researchareas is important, as common mechanisms are quitepossibly responsible for all these effects. Finally, we discusswhether associative or the causal inference mechanismscurrently studied in the area of learning couldprovide a satisfactory explanation for these effects.
... It is important to note that the learning task in this study differed from previous studies in which participants were asked to evaluate arbitrary cue-outcome relationships. In this study, we used an experimental paradigm (i.e., the allergy task) that has been widely used in the human predictive learning literature (e.g., Vadillo, Castro, Matute, & Wasserman, 2008;Dickinson & Burke, 1996;Matute, Arcediano, & Miller, 1996;Shanks & López, 1996;Van Hamme & Wasserman, 1994). ...
Article
Feedback-related negativity (FRN) is an ERP component that distinguishes positive from negative feedback. FRN has been hypothesized to be the product of an error signal that may be used to adjust future behavior. In addition, associative learning models assume that the trial-to-trial learning of cue-outcome mappings involves the minimization of an error term. This study evaluated whether FRN is a possible electrophysiological correlate of this error term in a predictive learning task where human subjects were asked to learn different cue-outcome relationships. Specifically, we evaluated the sensitivity of the FRN to the course of learning when different stimuli interact or compete to become a predictor of certain outcomes. Importantly, some of these cues were blocked by more informative or predictive cues (i.e., the blocking effect). Interestingly, the present results show that both learning and blocking affect the amplitude of the FRN component. Furthermore, independent analyses of positive and negative feedback event-related signals showed that the learning effect was restricted to the ERP component elicited by positive feedback. The blocking test showed differences in the FRN magnitude between a predictive and a blocked cue. Overall, the present results show that ERPs that are related to feedback processing correspond to the main predictions of associative learning models.
... Specifically, if the C-B association is strengthened and cue A is active, these models predict that the A-B association should be weakened. As discussed by Vadillo et al. (2008a) this could explain several instances of A-B, C-B interference. ...
Article
a b s t r a c t Some researchers have attempted to determine whether situations in which a single cue is paired with several outcomes (A–B, A–C interference or interference between outcomes) involve the same learning and retrieval mechanisms as situations in which several cues are paired with a single outcome (A–B, C–B interference or interference between cues). Interestingly, current research on a related effect, which is known as retrieval-induced forgetting, can illuminate this debate. Most retrieval-induced forgetting experiments are based on an experimental design that closely resembles the A–B, A–C interference paradigm. In the present experiment, we found that a similar effect may be observed when items are rearranged such that the general structure of the task more closely resembles the A–B, C–B interference paradigm. This result suggests that, as claimed by other researchers in the area of contingency learning, the two types of interference, namely A–B, A–C and A–B, C–B interference, may share some basic mecha-nisms. Moreover, the type of inhibitory processes assumed to underlie retrieval-induced forgetting may also play a role in these phenomena.
... Only reacquisition in the presence of an acquisition context cue (X), but not a novel cue (Y), weakened control of responding by the other acquisition context cue (A). This seems consistent with reports of backward blocking in which further training of an associated cue (X) with the outcome produces a larger decremental effect to the target cue (A) than training a novel cue (Y) (e.g., Vadillo, Castro, Matute, & Wasserman, 2008). In explaining backward blocking, associative models assume that cue X associatively activates both representations of the outcome and the absent cue (A). ...
... A retrospective revaluation account could still be applied if one assumes that the experimental context and home cage where the retention interval is spent share appreciable common elements that have associations with the US and the CS (e.g., Killcross, Kiernan, Dwyer, & Westbrook, 1998). However, such associations are likely to be weak if they exist at all, and retrospective revaluation generally depends on strong within-compound associations (Witnauer & Miller, 2010, but see Vadillo, Castro, Matute, & Wasserman, 2008). But these models may still be able to account for spontaneous recovery if the CS-US association is compared to a more general and global context, which includes the time spent outside of the experimental context. ...
Article
Recovery-from-extinction effects (e.g., spontaneous recovery, renewal, reinstatement, and facilitated reacquisition) have become the focus of much research in recent years. However, despite a great deal of empirical data, there are few theoretical explanations for these effects. This paucity poses a severe limitation on our understanding of these behavioral effects, impedes advances in uncovering neural mechanisms of response recovery, and reduces our potential to prevent relapse after exposure therapy. Towards correcting this oversight, this review takes prominent models of associative learning that have been used in the past and continue to be used today to explain Pavlovian conditioning and extinction, and assesses how each model can be applied to account for recovery-from-extinction effects. The models include the Rescorla-Wagner (1972) model, Mackintosh's (1975) attentional model, Pearce and Hall's (1980) attentional model, Wagner's (1981) SOP model, Pearce's (1987) configural model, McLaren and Mackintosh's (2002) elemental model, and Stout and Miller's (2007) SOCR (comparator hypothesis) model. Each model is assessed for how well it explains or does not explain the various recovery-from-extinction phenomena. We offer some suggestions for how the models might be modified to account for these effects in those instances in which they initially fail.
... Second, the lesser retroactive versus proactive cue competition effects have been most evident in comparisons of retroactive versus proactive blocking rather than comparisons of retroactive versus proactive "unovershadowing." Although there is some evidence of retroactive blocking (e.g., Hannah, Crump, Allan, & Siegel, 2009;McCormack, Butterfill, Hoerl, & Burns, 2009;Vadillo, Castro Matute, & Wasserman, 2008;Wasserman & Castro, 2005), Chapman (1991) offered a direct comparison of retroactive versus proactive blocking to show the former to be less. Likewise, Lovibond et al. (2003) and Mitchell et al. (2006) showed that retroactive blocking was less robust than proactive blocking. ...
Article
Full-text available
Five experiments involving human causal learning were conducted to compare the cue competition effects known as blocking and unovershadowing, in proactive and retroactive instantiations. Experiment 1 demonstrated reliable proactive blocking and unovershadowing but only retroactive unovershadowing. Experiment 2 replicated the same pattern and showed that the retroactive unovershadowing that was observed was interfered with by a secondary memory task that had no demonstrable effect on either proactive unovershadowing or blocking. Experiments 3a, 3b, and 3c demonstrated that retroactive unovershadowing was accompanied by an inflated memory effect not accompanying proactive unovershadowing. The differential pattern of proactive versus retroactive cue competition effects is discussed in relationship to amenable associative and inferential processing possibilities.
... Le Pelley y McLaren, 2001;Vadillo, Castro, Matute y Wasserman, 2008;Jamieson y Chubala, 2012). ...
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For the last forty years, a great number of studies regarding referential coherence and its processing has been carried out. In most of them, pronoun disambiguation is understood as an invariable phenomenon. From our perspective, due to the type and amount of knowledge involved, during academic reading, the way certain factors affect this type of processing is different from the way they do during non-specialized texts reading. In this work, we study the effect of referential distance and referential direction on referential coherence processing when reading academic texts written in Spanish. To do so, we carried out two experiments in which we assessed time and accuracy of answers in the processing of discourse segments corresponding to texts from Psychology and Construction Engineering. Equal to the case of studies on general discourse processing, results show that when reading academic texts written in Spanish, referential direction and referential distance have a significant effect in the establishment of referential coherence. But, in the case of academic discourse processing, processing is more efficient in cataphoric condition.
... This is possibly due to the fact that the filler cues presented during Phase 3 are paired with the same outcomes used for the target cue x. It is well known that training a novel cue-outcome association hinders responding to other cues that have been paired with the same outcome in the past (i.e., interference between cues; see Escobar et al., 2002;Vadillo et al., 2008;Luque et al., 2009Luque et al., , 2011. This interference effect might have limited overall responding to x at test, which would explain why some of the key statistical contrasts failed to reach conventional levels of significance. ...
Article
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Decades of research in extinction and interference show that contexts can play a critical role at disambiguating the meaning of cues that have been paired with different outcomes at different times. For instance, if a cue x is followed by outcome 1 in the first phase of an experiment and by outcome 2 in a second phase, responses to cue x tend to be consistent with outcome 2 when tested in a context similar to that of the second phase of the experiment. However, if participants are taken back to the original context of the first phase (i.e., ABA renewal) or to a completely new context (i.e., ABC or AAB renewal), their responses to x tend to be more consistent with outcome 1. Although the role of physical and temporal contexts has been well studied, other factors that can also modulate the selective retrieval of information after interference have received less attention. The present series of experiments shows how changes in cue configuration can modulate responding in a similar manner. Across five experiments using a human predictive learning task, we found that adding, removing or replacing elements from a compound cue that had undergone an interference treatment gave rise to a recovery of responding akin to that observed after context changes in AAB renewal. These results are consistent with those of previous studies exploring the effect of changes of cue configuration on interference. Taken together, these studies suggest that a change in cue configuration can have the functional properties of a context change, a finding with important implications for formal models of configural learning and for classical accounts of interference and information retrieval.
Chapter
Pavlovian conditioning, also known as classical conditioning, is a reliable training procedure that results in an organism responding to a stimulus that previously did not evoke a response. It involves pairing an initially innocuous stimulus, such as a light or tone, with another stimulus that naturally provokes a response, such as food or an electrical shock. The previously neutral stimulus comes to control responding and typically evokes the same behavior that the biologically significant stimulus provoked, albeit weaker. Once a stimulus acquires behavioral control, it is known as a conditioned stimulus (CS) because it required conditioning, or training, to elicit the behavioral response that the unconditioned stimulus (US) naturally evokes. The innate reaction to the US is called the unconditioned response (UR), and the acquired response to the CS is called a conditioned response (CR).
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For the last forty years, a great number of studies regarding referential coherence and its processing has been carried out. In most of them, pronoun disambiguation is understood as an invariable phenomenon. From our perspective, due to the type and amount of knowledge involved, during academic reading, the way certain factors affect this type of processing is different from the way they do during non-specialized texts reading. In this work, we study the effect of referential distance and referential direction on referential coherence processing when reading academic texts written in Spanish. To do so, we carried out two experiments in which we assessed time and accuracy of answers in the processing of discourse segments corresponding to texts from Psychology and Construction Engineering. Equal to the case of studies on general discourse processing, results show that when reading academic texts written in Spanish, referential direction and referential distance have a significant effect in the establishment of referential coherence. But, in the case of academic discourse processing, processing is more efficient in cataphoric condition.
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The present series of experiments explores the interaction between retroactive interference and cue competition in human contingency learning. The results of two experiments show that a cue that has been exposed to a cue competition treatment (overshadowing) loses part of its ability to retroactively interfere with responding to a different cue that was paired with the same outcome. These results pose problems for associative models of contingency learning and are also difficult to explain in terms of current theories of causal reasoning. Additionally, it is proposed that in light of the interaction between interference and cue competition, interference could be used as an indirect measure for the study of cue competition effects.
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Retroactive interference between cues trained apart was long ago studied in the Psychology of Memory, within the paired associate tradition. Current theories of learning, however, predict that interference between cues should not occur if they are trained elementally. Here we review the available evidence on retroactive interference between cues trained apart and show that this effect is very similar to other, classical effects, in the area of learning, such as interference between outcomes and competition between cues. We suggest that a stronger connection between these research areas is important, as common mechanisms are quite possibly responsible for all these effects. Finally, we discuss whether associative or the causal inference mechanisms currently studied in the area of learning could provide a satisfactory explanation for these effects.
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Retroactive interference between cues of the same outcome (i.e., IbC) occurs when the behavioral expression of an association between a cue and an outcome (e.g., A-->O1) is reduced due to the later acquisition of an association between a different cue and the same outcome (e.g., B-->O1). Though this interference effect has been traditionally explained within an associative framework, there is recent evidence showing that IbC effect may be better understood in terms of the operation of higher order causal reasoning processes. The results from Experiments 1 and 2 showed an IbC effect in a learning task within a game scenario suggesting non-causal relationships between events. Thus, these results showed that IbC may have a diverse origin, one of them being of an associative nature.
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This chapter describes the potential explanatory power of a specific response rule and its implications for models of acquisition. This response rule is called the “comparator hypothesis.” It was originally inspired by Rescorla's contingency theory. Rescorla noted that if the number and frequency of conditioned stimulus–unconditioned stimulus (CS–US) pairings are held constant, unsignaled presentations of the US during training attenuate conditioned responding. This observation complemented the long recognized fact that the delivery of nonreinforced presentations of the CS during training also attenuates conditioned responding. The symmetry of the two findings prompted Rescorla to propose that during training, subjects inferred both the probability of the US in the presence of the CS and the probability of the US in the absence of the CS and they then established a CS–US association based upon a comparison of these quantities. The comparator hypothesis is a qualitative response rule, which, in principle, can complement any model of acquisition.
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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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Matute and Pineño (1998a) showed evidence of interference between elementally trained cues and suggested that this effect occurs when the interfering association is more strongly activated than the target association at the time of testing. The present experiments tested directly the role of the relative activation of the associations in the effect of interference between elementally trained cues. In three human experiments we manipulated the relative activation of the interfering and target associations in three different ways: (a) introducing a retention interval between training of the interfering association and the test trial (Experiment 1); (b) training the target and the interfering associations in a single phase, instead of training them in separate phases (Experiment 2); and (c) introducing, just before testing, a novel cue which, like the retention interval used in Experiment 1, had the purpose of separating the interfering trials from the test trial (Experiment 3). All three manipulations led to an enhancement of responding to the target association at testing, suggesting that they were effective in preventing the interfering association from being the most strongly activated one at the time of testing. Taken together, these results add further evidence on how the relative activation of associations modulates interference between elementally trained cues.
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It has recently been suggested that patients with semantic breakdown may show the phenomenon of so-called "naming without semantics". If substantiated, this finding would clearly have a major impact on theories of face and object processing, all of which assume that access to semantic knowledge is a prerequisite for successful naming. In order to investigate this issue, we studied recognition, identification (the ability to provide accurate information), and naming of 50 famous faces by 24 patients with mild to moderate dementia of Alzheimer type (DAT) and 30 age-matched controls. The DAT group was impaired in all three conditions. An analysis of the concordance between identification and naming by each patient, for each stimulus item, established that naming a famous face was possible only with semantic knowledge sufficient to identify the person. Our data support the hypothesis that naming is not possible unless semantic information associated with the target is available. Naming without semantics, therefore, did not occur in patients with DAT. By contrast, there were 206 instances (17% of the total responses) in which the patients were able to provide detailed, accurate identifying information yet were unable to name the person represented. The implication of these findings for models of face identification and naming are discussed.
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In this article I review research and theory on the "interference paradigms" in Pavlovian learning. In these situations (e.g., extinction, counterconditioning, and latent inhibition), a conditioned stimulus (CS) is associated with different unconditioned stimuli (USs) or outcomes in different phases of the experiment; retroactive interference, proactive interference, or both are often observed. In all of the paradigms, contextual stimuli influence performance, and when information is available, so does the passage of time. Memories of both phases are retained, and performance may depend on which is retrieved. Despite the similarity of the paradigms, conditioning theories tend to explain them with separate mechanisms. They also do not provide an adequate account of the context's role, fail to predict the effects of time, and overemphasize the role of learning or storage deficits. By accepting 4 propositions about animal memory (i.e., contextual stimuli guide retrieval, time is a context, different memories are differentially dependent on context, and interference occurs at performance output), a memory retrieval framework can provide an integrated account of context, time, and performance in the various paradigms.
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The role of within-compound associations in the retrospective revaluation of causality judgements was investigated in a two-stage procedure in which the subjects were asked to learn whether or not different food stimuli caused an allergic reaction in hypothetical patients. In the compound-cue stage a number of compound cues, each consisting of a competing stimulus and a target stimulus, were associated with the reaction across a series of trials, whereas in the single-cue stage the subjects had the opportunity to learn which of the competing cues, when presented alone, caused the reaction. Each target stimulus was presented with the same competing cue across all compound trials in the consistent condition, but with a different competing cue on each trial in the varied condition. In a forward procedure, in which the single-cue stage preceded compound cue training, judgements of the causal effectiveness of the target stimuli were reduced or blocked by training them in compound with a competing cue that had been previously paired with the reaction. Moreover, the magnitude of this reduction was comparable in the consistent and varied conditions. This was not true, however, when the single- and compound-cue stages were reversed in the backward procedure. Judgements for target cues compounded with competing cues that were subsequently paired with the reaction were reduced only in the consistent condition. If it is assumed that stronger associations were formed between the competing and target stimuli during the compound-cue stage in the consistent condition than in the varied condition, this pattern suggests that the retrospective revaluation of causality judgements can be mediated by the formation of within-compound associations.
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We replicated and extended a project by Dickinson and Burke (1996) that concerned human causal judgement. In a medical diagnostic setting, college students' ratings of the causal efficacy of target cues showed retrospective revaluation: relative to a proper control condition, ratings of target cues both increased ("recovery from overshadowing") and decreased ("backward blocking") during a second stage of training in which competing cues, but not target cues, were presented. These changes in causal judgements were exhibited only by subjects who had learned which target and competing cues were paired with one another during the first stage of training. These results cannot be explained by the Rescorla-Wagner (1972) model of associative learning, but they can be explained by the revised model of Van Hamme and Wasserman (1994); the revised model assigns non-zero salience to non-presented target stimuli whose memories or representations are retrieved by competing stimuli that had previously been paired with those target stimuli.
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An eyetracking version of the classic Shepard, Hovland, and Jenkins (1961) experiment was conducted. Forty years of research has assumed that category learning often involves learning to selectively attend to only those stimulus dimensions useful for classification. We confirmed that participants learned to allocate their attention optimally. We also found that learners tend to fixate all stimulus dimensions early in learning. This result obtained despite evidence that participants were also testing one-dimensional rules during this period. Finally, the restriction of eye movements to only relevant dimensions tended to occur only after errors were largely (or completely) eliminated. We interpret these findings as consistent with multiple-systems theories of learning which maximize information input in order to maximize the number of learning modules involved, and which focus solely on relevant information only after one module has solved the learning problem.
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It is said that "absence makes the heart grow fonder." But, when and why does an absent event become salient to the heart or to the brain? An absent event may become salient when its nonoccurrence is surprising. Van Hamme and Wasserman (1994) found that a nonpresented but expected stimulus can actually change its associative status-and in the opposite direction from a presented stimulus. Associative models like that of Rescorla and Wagner (1972) focus only on presented cues; so, they cannot explain this result. However, absent cues can be permitted to change their value by assigning different learning parameters to present and absent cues. Van Hamme and Wasserman revised the Rescorla-Wagner model so that the a parameter is positive for present cues, but negative for absent cues; now, changes in the associative strength of absent cues move in the opposite direction as presented ones. This revised Rescorla-Wagner model can thus explain such otherwise vexing empirical findings as backward blocking, recovery from overshadowing, and backward conditioned inhibition. Moreover, the revised model predicts new effects. For example, explicit information about the absence of nonpresented cues should increase their salience (that is, their negative a value should be larger), leading to stronger associative changes than when no explicit mention is made of cue absence. Support for this prediction is detailed in a new causal judgment experiment in which participants rated the effectiveness of different foods' triggering a patient's allergic reaction. Overall, these and other findings encourage us to view human causal learning from an associative perspective.
  • Le Pelley M. E.