Associative structures in animal learning: dissociating elemental and configural processes

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2014 Feb:108:96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2013.06.002. Epub 2013 Jun 13.


The central concern of associative learning theory is to provide an account of behavioral adaptation that is parsimonious in addressing three key questions: (1) under what conditions does learning occur, (2) what are the associative structures involved, and (3) how do these affect behavior? The principle focus here is on the second question, concerning associative structures, but we will have cause to touch on the others in passing. This question is one that has exercised theorists since Pavlov's descriptions of the conditioning process, where he identifies the shared significance of the study of conditioned reflexes for psychologists and neuroscientists alike.

Keywords: Configural; Elemental; Hippocampus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Rats