Instrumental and Pavlovian incentive processes have dissociable effects on components of a heterogeneous instrumental chain

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2003 Apr;29(2):99-106. doi: 10.1037/0097-7403.29.2.99.


Two experiments compared the effects of Pavlovian stimuli and incentive learning on the performance of a heterogeneous chain of instrumental actions. Using a Pavlovian-instrumental transfer design, the authors found that only a stimulus paired with the same outcome as that earned by performance of the chain produced positive transfer, an effect that was restricted to the action in the chain most proximal to reward delivery. In contrast, after a shift to a nondeprived state, only animals that had previously consumed the instrumental outcome when they were nondeprived decreased instrumental performance. Furthermore, this effect of the incentive learning treatment was limited to performance of the distal action. Together these data suggest that Pavlovian and instrumental incentive manipulations have dissociable effects on instrumental performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning
  • Conditioning, Classical*
  • Conditioning, Operant*
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation
  • Motivation
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Serial Learning*
  • Transfer, Psychology*