Blocking acquisition of the rabbit's nictitating membrane response to serial conditioned stimuli

E. James Kehoe, B. G. Schreurs, N. Amodei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Three experiments demonstrated that prior training with one stimulus (CS1) would block acquisition of the rabbit's nictitating membrane response (NMR) to another stimulus (CS2) which was more contiguous to the US during serial compound training (CS1-CS2-US). Specifically, the CS1-US interval was 800 msec, which produces only a modest rate of CR acquisition, while the CS2-US interval was 400 msec, which is an optimal value for the NMR preparation. Experiment 1 demonstrated blocking when CS1 overlapped CS2, and Experiment 3 demonstrated blocking when CS1 and CS2 were presented in a strictly sequential fashion. Experiment 2 showed that the magnitude of blocking in the serial compound was comparable to that obtained in a simultaneous compound in which both the CS1-US and CS2-US intervals were 800 msec, thus making CS2 less contiguous with the US than in the serial compound. Moreover, the level of responding to CS2 in all serial compound groups (blocking and control) was lower than in the simultaneous compound groups. The present findings provide further evidence that the associative consequences of CS-US contiguity can be highly attenuated by processes of attention or competition for associative strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-108
Number of pages17
JournalLearning and Motivation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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