Classical conditioning mechanisms can differentiate between seeing and doing in rats.
We show that the attentional-associative SLG model of classical conditioning, based on the 1996 research of Schmajuk, Lam, and Gray, correctly describes experimental results regarded as evidence of causal learning in rats: (a) interventions attenuate responding following common-cause training but do not interfere on subsequent responding during observation, and (b) interventions do not affect responding after direct-cause training or (c) causal-chain training. According to the model, responding to the weakly attended test stimulus is strongly inhibited by the intervention in the common-cause case. Instead, in the direct-cause and causal-chain cases, the strongly attended test stimulus becomes inhibitory, thereby overshadowing the inhibitory effect of interventions. Most importantly, the model predicted that with relatively few test trials (a) the 2008 results of Experiment 3 by Leising, Wong, Waldmann, and Blaisdell should be similar to those of Dwyer, Starns, and Honey's 2009 Experiment 1, showing that interventions equally affect responding after common-cause and direct-cause training; and (b) the 2006 results of Experiment 2a by Blaisdell, Sawa, Leising, and Waldmann should be similar to those of Dwyer, Starns, and Honey's 2009 Experiment 2, showing that interventions equally affect responding after common-cause and causal-chain training. When those data were made available to us, we confirmed those predictions. In agreement with the SLG associative model, but not with causal model theory, this evidence supports the notion that the attenuation of responding by interventions only following common-cause training is the consequence of well-known learning processes-latent inhibition, sensory preconditioning, conditioned inhibition, protection from extinction, and overshadowing.
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