Magnitude and timing of conditioned responses in delay and trace classical conditioning of the nictitating membrane response of the rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Behav Neurosci. 2009 Oct;123(5):1095-101. doi: 10.1037/a0017112.


The present experiment characterized conditioned nictitating membrane (NM) movements as a function of CS duration, using the full range of discernible movements (>.06 mm) rather than movements exceeding a conventional criterion (>.50 mm). The CS-US interval was fixed at 500 ms, while across groups, the duration of the CS was 50 ms (trace), 550 ms (delay), or 1050 ms (extended delay). The delay group showed the highest level of acquisition. When tested with the different CS durations, the delay and extended delay groups showed large reductions in their responses when their CS was shortened to 50 ms, but the trace group maintained its response at all durations. Timing of the conditioned movements appeared similar across all manipulations. The results suggest that the CS has both a fine timing function tied to CS onset and a general predictive function tied to CS duration, both of which may be mediated by cerebellar pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Conditioning, Eyelid / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Nictitating Membrane / physiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Reaction Time / physiology*