Facilitation of instrumental behavior by a Pavlovian appetitive conditioned stimulus

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 1983 Jul;9(3):225-47.


Three experiments examined appetitive Pavlovian-instrumental interactions by presenting separately trained conditioned stimuli (CSs) during reinforced instrumental responding in rabbits. Intra-oral reinforcement was used to minimize interference from peripheral responses such as magazine approach. In experiment 1, the rabbits were first trained to perform an instrumental head-raising response for sucrose reward. A conditioned jaw movement response was then established to a 2-sec CS by pairing it with sucrose; a control stimulus was unpaired with sucrose. Instrumental responding maintained by a variable-interval 40-sec schedule was enhanced during 10-sec presentations of the paired, but not the unpaired, CS. Responding on a variable-ratio 15 schedule was unaffected except on trials on which the pre-CS baseline response rate was low; in such cases the paired CS caused a long-lasting acceleration of responding. Noncontingent presentation of the sucrose reinforcer itself briefly suppressed responding but had no long-term effect. In Experiment 2, a CS that had been conditioned at a 10-sec duration produced the same pattern of effects as in the first study, indicating that facilitation resulted from CS presentation rather than from the frustrative effects of non-reinforcement of the CS. In Experiment 3 an inhibitory CS blocked facilitation by the excitatory CS but did not itself affect instrumental responding. These results support the view that Pavlovian processes play a positive role in instrumental performance and suggest that previous findings of suppression by a short-duration CS reflect peripheral interference. The dependence of facilitation on the baseline level of responding is discussed in terms of associative and motivational theories of Pavlovian mediation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior*
  • Conditioning, Classical*
  • Conditioning, Operant*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Rabbits
  • Reinforcement Schedule