Generalization of contextual fear as a function of familiarity: the role of within- and between-context associations

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2012 Jul;38(3):315-21. doi: 10.1037/a0028689. Epub 2012 May 28.


Three experiments in rats investigated the generalization of conditioned fear from one context (B) to both a preexposed context (A) and a novel context (C). In each experiment, when the conditioning context (B) had been preexposed, there was greater generalization to context A than to context C; but when B was novel at the outset of conditioning this difference between A and C was not observed. The implications of these results for associative treatments of the development of contextual memories are evaluated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Fear*
  • Generalization, Psychological / physiology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*