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The effect of conditioned inhibition on the specific Pavlovian-instrumental transfer effect




Four experiments examined the effect of Pavlovian conditioned inhibition on specific Pavlovian-instrumental transfer (PIT) in human participants. The task comprised an instrumental phase in which two responses (R1, R2) were each paired with one of two outcomes (O1, O2: R1-->O1, R2-->O2), and a Pavlovian phase, in which two CSs, CS1 and CS2 each signalled one of the two outcomes (CS1-->O1, CS2-->O2). In Experiments 1-2 a conditioned inhibitor, X, predicted the omission of one of the outcomes (e.g. CS1-->O1, CS1X-->nothing). In a subsequent test, performance of R1 and R2 was examined in the presence of CS1 and CS2. A specific PIT effect was observed: R1 was performed more than R2 during CS1, and R2 more than R1 during CS2. This PIT effect was significantly reduced by the presence of the inhibitor X in Experiment 1, in which the Pavlovian phase followed the instrumental phase, and in Experiment 2 in which it preceded it. No such effect was observed when X was presented in the absence of any expectation of the outcomes during the PIT test (Experiment 3a), or when X was trained as a signal for an alternative outcome (Experiment 3b). These results are consistent with the suggestion that the specific PIT effect occurs through a stimulus-outcome-response (S-O-R) mechanism, according to which the CS evokes a representation of the outcome which in turn elicits the response (e.g. CS1-->O1-->R1). The conditioned inhibitor suppresses performance of the response by suppressing activation of the outcome representation.


Alarcón, D., & Bonardi, C. (2016). The effect of conditioned inhibition on the specific Pavlovian-instrumental transfer effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 2, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Deposit Date Oct 9, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jan 1, 2016
Journal Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition
Print ISSN 2329-8456
Electronic ISSN 2329-8456
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
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Additional Information This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.


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