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Associative mechanisms involved in specific Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer (PIT) in human learning tasks

Alarc�n, Daniel; Bonardi, Charlotte; Delamater, Andrew

Associative mechanisms involved in specific Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer (PIT) in human learning tasks Thumbnail


Daniel Alarc�n

Andrew Delamater


Four experiments compared the effect of forward and backward conditioning procedures on the ability of conditioned stimuli (CSs) to elevate instrumental responding in a Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer (PIT) task. Two responses were each trained with one distinct outcome (R1->O1, R2->O2), either concurrently (Experiment 1) or separately (Experiments 2, 3 and 4). Then, in Experiments 1 and 2, four CSs were either followed or preceded by one outcome (A->O1, B->O2, O1->C, O2->D). In Experiment 3 each CS was preceded and followed by an outcome: for one group of participants both outcomes were identical (e.g., O1->A->O1, O2->B->O2), but for the other they were different (e.g., O1->A->O2, O2->B->O1). In Experiment 4 two CSs were preceded and followed by identical outcomes, and two CSs by different outcomes. In the PIT tests participants performed R1 and R2 in the presence and absence of the CSs. In Experiments 1 and 2 only the CSs followed by outcomes in Pavlovian training elevated responding. In Experiments 3 and 4 all the CSs elevated responding but based on the outcome that followed them in training. These results support the stimulusoutcome-response (S-O-R) mechanism of specific PIT, according to which CSs elevate responding via activation of its associated outcome representation.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 9, 2017
Online Publication Date Jan 1, 2018
Publication Date 2018-07
Deposit Date Jun 14, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jan 1, 2018
Journal Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Print ISSN 1747-0218
Electronic ISSN 1747-0226
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 71
Issue 7
Pages 1607-1625
Keywords Pavlovian-instrumental transfer (PIT); response-outcome associations;backward conditioning, incentive motivation, human decision making
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Journal publication in process of transferring to SAGE.


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