Classical eyeblink conditioning in adulthood: effects of age and interstimulus interval on acquisition in the trace paradigm

Psychol Aging. 1991 Mar;6(1):109-17. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.6.1.109.


Effects of age and interstimulus interval (ISI) were examined in eyeblink classical conditioning with a trace paradigm. Sixty young adults were trained in Experiment 1 with 6 interstimulus intervals (ISIs): 400, 900, 1,200, 1,500, 1,800, and 2,100 ms. The purpose was to find an ISI value for humans that would result in nonoptimal acquisition. ISIs of 1,200 ms and longer were nonoptimal. Adults aged 17-81 years were trained in Experiment 2 with a nonoptimal 1,800-ms ISI in the trace paradigm. Young and middle-aged subjects demonstrated equivalent levels of acquisition, and only older subjects conditioned more poorly. Aging appears to affect conditioning in the long-ISI trace paradigm as well as in the short-ISI delay paradigm.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over / psychology
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Arousal
  • Association Learning
  • Attention
  • Conditioning, Classical*
  • Conditioning, Eyelid*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time*
  • Reference Values