Sequential and Simultaneous Feature Positive Discriminations: Occasion Setting and Configural Learning in Human Pavlovian Conditioning

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2001 Jul;27(3):279-95.


Using a conditioned suppression preparation, the authors investigated sequential (X --> A+/A-) versus simultaneous (XA+/A-) feature positive (FP) discrimination learning in humans. The sequential discrimination was expected to be resolved by means of a Feature X Modulated Target A-US association and the simultaneous discrimination by a feature X-US association. After sequential FP training, extinction of Feature X did not affect discriminative X --> A/A responding (Experiment 1), and X transferred its modulatory ability only to new targets, B, that had also been modulated (Experiment 2). This suggests that the sequential FP discrimination indeed resulted in occasion setting. Unlike expected, Feature X Extinction did not affect discriminative XA/A responding after simultaneous FP training (Experiment 3), while at the same time Feature X did show the predicted nonselective transfer to new targets, B (Experiment 4). J. M. Pearce's (1987) configural learning theory can account for most but not all findings of Experiments 3 and 4.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male