Renewal of extinguished behavior in pigeons (Columba livia) does not require memory consolidation of acquisition or extinction in a free-operant appetitive conditioning paradigm

Behav Brain Res. 2019 Sep 16:370:111947. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.111947. Epub 2019 May 15.


Extinction learning is a fundamental capacity for adaptive and flexible behavior. As extinguished conditioned responding is prone to relapse under certain conditions, the necessity of memory consolidation for recovery phenomena to occur has been highlighted recently. Several studies have demonstrated that both acquisition and extinction training need to be properly consolidated for a relapse of the original acquired memory trace to occur. Does this imply that extinguished responses cannot relapse before memory consolidation? To answer this question, we investigated the renewal effect subsequent to an immediate or a delayed (24 h) extinction in a discriminative operant conditioning paradigm. In three different experiments, we could show (1) that acquisition learning does not need to be long-term consolidated for the occurrence of renewal, (2) that the offset of extinction training is a reliable marker for extinction recall in a free-operant extinction learning paradigm where organisms undergo consecutive acquisition training, extinction training as well as testing of conditioned responding and (3), that immediate and long-term consolidated renewal do not demonstrate any qualitative difference in terms of the behavioral output. Our results indicate on the behavioral level that the inhibitory nature of extinction is already present in free-operant learning paradigms and that it does not seem to be affected by the absence of long-term memory consolidation.

Keywords: Extinction learning; Memory consolidation; Pigeon; Renewal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Columbidae
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Memory Consolidation / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology*