Prevention of the degraded-contingency effect by signalling training trials.Q J Exp Psychol B. 2000 May; 53(2):97-119.QJ
Presentation of unsignalled unconditioned stimuli (USs) interspersed among Pavlovian excitatory conditioning trials weakens conditioned responding to a target conditioned stimulus (CS; Rescorla, 1968). However, signalling these intertrial USs with another cue (a cover stimulus) has been shown to alleviate this degraded-contingency effect (e.g. Durlach, 1982, 1983). In contrast to signalling the intertrial USs, the present experiments examined the effect on the degraded-contingency effect of signalling the target CS-US pairings. Experiment 1, using parameters selected to avoid overshadowing, found that consistently presenting a cover stimulus immediately prior to the target CS-US pairings during degraded-contingency training alleviated the degraded-contingency effect. Experiment 2 examined the underlying mechanism responsible for this cover-stimulus effect through posttraining associative inflation of the cover stimulus or the context, and found that inflation of the cover stimulus attenuated responding to the target CS (i.e. empirical retrospective revaluation). The results are discussed in terms of various acquisition- and expression-focused models of acquired responding.