Modulation of the acquisition of the rabbit eyeblink conditioned response by conditioned contextual stimuli

Jonathan C. Gewirtz, Susan E. Brandon, Allan R. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Three experiments were conducted to ask if conditioned emotional responses (CERs) controlled by contextual cues modulate the acquisition of eyelid conditioned responses (CRs) to discrete conditioned stimuli (CSs). Experiment 1 showed that 30-s auditory stimuli that were paired with aversive shocks to one paraorbital region or the other controlled discriminated CERs, as measured by potentiation of a startle response. In Experiments 2 and 3, similarly trained 30-s stimuli served as contexts in which 1,050-ms CSs were paired with a paraorbital unconditioned stimulus (US). Reinforced contexts both impaired (Experiments 2A and 2B) and facilitated (Experiment 3B) acquisition of the eyeblink CR, depending on the locus of the USs involved. The data are consistent with the interpretation that CERs controlled by contextual cues facilitate CR acquisition, but do so in the face of blocking effects of CR tendencies also conditioned to the contextual cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-117
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1998

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