Conditioned Inhibition

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Many other conditioning phenomena were first discovered by Pavlov and they are still of major concern to students and theorists of the learning process. We shall conduce this brief discussion with one more example.

In another series of experiments, Pavlov used several neutral stimuli while working with the same dog. The dog was first conditioned to salivate to each of two stimuli CS1 arid CS2. This was of course done in the usual way, by pairing each of these CSs with meat powder. Then on some trials Pavlov presented a new stimulus CS3, at the same time as CS1. Whenever the combination CS3 plus CS1 was presented, there was no reinforcement.
There were trials when CS1 was presented by itself without CS3. Whenever that concurred, CS1 was reinforced. This is a kind of discrimination training.

When CS1 occurs alone, food always follows; but when CS1 occurs together with CS3, food never follows. There is nothing surprising in the fact that, after a number of trials the dog comes to respond reliably to CS1, while not responding to the combination of CS1 and CS3. While this discrimination was being learned Pavlov continued on some trials to present CS2, which was alway reinforced. Then, after the   discrimination had been learned, Pavlov presented the dog with a new combination   of stimuli, CS2 and CS3. The dog did not salivate to that combination- in spite of tile fact that a conditioned response would surely have occurred if CS2 had been presented alone.

That meant Pavlov reasoned, that CS3 had been made into a conditioned inhibitor of responding. Though CS3 had signalled nonreinforcement only when presented with CS1, the   ‘conditioning had obviously given CS3 a more general property. The dog now behaved as if CS3 were a generalized signal for nonreinforcement of all conditioned responses. When CS3 is presented together with any normally effective CS, it inhibits the conditioned response that would otherwise occur.

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