Ontogenesis of learning: III. Variation in the rat's differential reflexive and learned responses to sound frequencies.Dev Psychobiol. 1984 May; 17(3):285-300.DP
The ontogenesis of the rat's differential response to variation in sound frequency was investigated. Two behavioral procedures were employed: (a) a differential Pavlovian conditioning procedure that provided a means of inferring the pup's capacity to learn to respond differentially on the basis of sound frequency (e.g., 2000 Hz vs 900 Hz), and (b) a habituation-generalization task that indexed the capacity to discriminate different sound frequencies from the pup's reflexive behavior. Pups less than 17 days old failed to learn to respond differentially to a 2000-Hz vs 900-Hz tone (Experiment I, IIA, IIB, and III). In contrast, pups only 14 days old discriminated tones that differed by as little as 200 Hz when the reflex-habituation-generalization procedure was employed (Experiment IV). This suggests that the reflexive and learned behaviors, potentially controlled by sound frequency, are dissociated during ontogenesis, the former emerging prior to the latter. These data were interpreted within a neurobiological framework that related ontogenetic changes in behavioral capacity to a caudal-to-rostral maturational sequence in the ascending auditory system of the components that contribute to these capacities.