Modulation of the effective salience of a stimulus by direct and associative activation of its representation

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2005 Jul;31(3):267-76. doi: 10.1037/0097-7403.31.3.267.


In 2 experiments, rats received exposure to presentations of a footshock preceded by a given cue. In the PRf (partial reinforcement) condition, this cue also occurred in the absence of the shock; in the CRf (continuous reinforcement) condition, it did not. Subsequent testing in which a new stimulus was used to signal the shock (Experiment 1) showed that the shock was more effective as a reinforcer for the PRf than for the CRf group. In Experiment 2, the shock was used as a conditioned stimulus signaling food delivery, and it was found that conditioning occurred more readily in the PRf than in the CRf group. These results accord with the hypothesis that preexposure to the shock results in a decline in its effective salience but that experience of a cue that signals shock in the absence of the shock itself attenuates this effect and helps maintain stimulus salience.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electroshock / methods
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Reinforcement Schedule*
  • Time Factors