Associative learning theories strive to capture the processes underlying and driving the change in strength of the associations between representations of stimuli that develop as a result of experience of the predictive relationships between those stimuli. Historically, formal models of associative learning have focused on two potential factors underlying associative change, namely processing of the conditioned stimulus (in terms of changes in associability) and processing of the unconditioned stimulus (in terms of changes in error). This review constitutes an analysis of the proper role of these two factors, specifically with regard to the way in which they are influenced by associative history (the prior training undergone by cues). A novel "hybrid" model of associative learning is proposed and is shown to provide a more satisfactory account of the effects of associative history on subsequent learning than any previous single-process theory.
Copyright 2004 The Experimental Psychology Society