Contextual control over conditioned responding in an extinction paradigm

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2000 Apr;26(2):174-85. doi: 10.1037//0097-7403.26.2.174.


Four experiments studied contextual control over rats' freezing to conditioned stimuli (CSs) that had been paired with shock and were then extinguished. In Experiment 1, rats were exposed to a CS A-shock and a CS B-shock pairing in Context C. CS A was then extinguished in Context A, and CS B in Context B. Freezing was renewed when each CS was presented in the context where the other CS had been extinguished. In Experiments 2-4, rats were exposed to a CS A-shock pairing in A and a CS B-shock pairing in B. They were then exposed to Context C where one, both, or neither of the CSs were extinguished, or where both CSs continued to be reinforced. On test, the rats froze more to CS A than to CS B in Context A, and more to CS B than to CS A in Context B, but only if the CSs had been extinguished. Thus, after extinction, rats use contexts to regulate retrieval not only of their memory for extinction, but also of their memory for the original conditioning episode.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Extinction, Psychological*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar