Configural learning without reinforcement: integrated memories for correlates of what, where, and when

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2008;61(12):1785-92. doi: 10.1080/17470210802194324. Epub 2008 Jun 19.


In 2 experiments we examined the ability of rats to form configural memories of what auditory stimulus (X or Y) was presented where (Context A or B) and when (morning or afternoon). In both experiments, rats received morning presentations of X in Context A and Y in Context B and afternoon presentations of X in B and Y in A. Subsequently, at midday the rats were exposed to trials where X was paired with footshock whereas Y was not. We then assessed the degree of contextual fear in A and B in the morning and the afternoon. In the morning, rats showed more fear in A than in B, and in the afternoon they showed more fear in B than in A. These results indicate that rats can form configural memories that represent what (X or Y) was presented, where (A or B), and when (morning or afternoon).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activity Cycles / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Environment*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*