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The effect of US signalling and the US-CS interval in backward conditioning was assessed in mice. For one group of mice the presentation of food was signalled by a tone and for another group, food was unsignalled. For half of the mice, within each group, the presentation of food preceded a visual cue by 10 s. For the other half, food was presented at the start of the visual cue (0-s US-CS interval), resulting in simultaneous pairings of these events. A summation test and a subsequent retardation test were used to assess the inhibitory effects of backward conditioning in comparison to training with a non-reinforced visual cue that controlled for the possible effects of latent inhibition and conditioned inhibition caused as a consequence of differential conditioning. In the summation test unsignalled presentations of the US resulted in inhibition when the US-CS interval was 10 s, but not 0 s. Signalled presentations of the US resulted in inhibition, independent of the US-CS interval. In the retardation test, independent of US signalling, a US-CS interval of 10 s failed to result in inhibition, but an interval of 0 s resulted in greater conditioned responding to the backward CS than the control CS. A generalisation decrement account of the effect of signalling the US with a 0-s US-CS interval, which resulted in reduced responding in the summation test and faster acquisition in the retardation test, is discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Learn Motiv

Publication Date





22 - 32


Behaviour, Conditioned Inhibition, External Inhibition, Learning, Priming, Temporal Contiguity