Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

One-trial cardiac conditioning in dogs

  • 14 Accesses


Our interest in cardiovascular conditioning, particularly the fact that conditional tachycardia has been observed in many dogs after only one or two combinations of conditional and unconditional stimuli, led us to investigate conditioning using a single application of an unconditional stimulus. Initially we studied the effect of orienting stimuli (soft tones) on the heart rate in 9 dogs. After 30–100 presentations of the tones alone, each dog received on one occasion a 25-volt shock (sufficient to cause yelping and struggling) to a leg as unconditional stimulus immediately following a tone. Thereafter 30–100 additional tones were presented with no further shock. Little or no heart rate change occurred during the orienting tones (before shock). Three types of cardiac changes occurred during experimental sessions after the shock: 1) Increased heart rate during the tones in 5 dogs; 2) Generalized lowering of heart rate during all experimental sessions after shock in 4 dogs; 3) Electrocardiographic changes during tones in 3 of the dogs also showing the generalized decrease in heart rate. No motor flexion conditional reflexes developed. Tones an octave different in pitch from the one associated with the shock also caused approximately the same heart rate changes, indicating lack of differentiation. This one-trial cardiac conditioning persisted after the single conditioning trial for more than a month in 2 dogs and for at least 3 to 5 sessions in the other dogs.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Black, A. H., Carlson, N. J., and Solomon, R. L.: Exploratory studies of the conditioning of autonomie responses in curarized dogs.Psychol. Monogr.,76:29, 1962.

  2. Campbell, Dugal, Sanderson, R. E., and Laverty, S. G.: Characteristics of a conditioned response in human subjects during extinction trials following a single traumatic conditioning trial.J. Abnorm. & Soc. Psychol.,68: 627–639, 1964.

  3. Dykman, R. A., Murphree, O. D., and Ackerman, P. T.: Litter patterns in the offspring of nervous and stable dogs: II. Autonomic and motor conditioning.J. New. Ment. Dis.,141:419–431, 1966.

  4. Essman, Walter B., and Jarvik, Murray E.: Extinction of a response conditioned in a single trial.Psychol. Rep.,8:311–312, 1961.

  5. Gantt, W. Horsley:Experimental Basis for Neurotic Behavior. New York, Paul B. Hoeber, Inc., 1944.

  6. Gantt, W. Horsley: Principles of nervous breakdown—Schizokinesis and Autokinesis.Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sc.,56:143–163, 1953

  7. Gantt, W. Horsley, and Dykman, Ross A.: Experimental psychogenic tachycardia. In: Hoch, P. H., and Zubin, J. (Eds.)Experimental Psychopathology, New York, Grune and Stratton, Inc., 1957, pp. 12–19.

  8. Hudson, Bradford B.: One-trial learning in the domestic rat.Genet. Psychol. Mongr.,41:99–145, 1950.

  9. Maatsch, Jack L.: Learning and fixation after a single shock trial.J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol,52:408–410, 1959.

  10. Newton, J. E. O., and Gantt, W. H.: Curare reveals central rather than peripheral factor determining cardiac orienting reflex.Amer. J. Physiol.,199: 978–980, 1960.

  11. Pavlov, I. P.:Lectures on Conditioned Reflexes, trans. by W. Horsley Gantt, New York, International Publishers, 1928.

  12. Robinson, J., and Gantt, W. H.: The Orienting Reflex (questioning reaction): Cardiac, respiratory, salivary and motor components.Bull. Johns Hopkins Hosp.,80:231–253, 1947.

  13. Smith, O. A., Jr., McFarland, W. L., and Taylor, E.: Performance in a shock avoidance conditioning situation interpreted as pseudoconditioning.J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 54:154–157, 1961.

  14. Solomon, R. L., and Wynne, L. C.: Traumatic avoidance learning: Acquisition in normal dogs.Psychol. Monogr., 67: (4, whole no. 354), 1953.

  15. Teitelbaum, H. A.: Unpublished observations.

  16. Willmuth, Ragon, and Peters, John E.: Recovery from traumatic experience in rats: Specific “treatment” vs. passage of time.Behav. Res. Ther.,2:111–116, 1964.

  17. Wolpe, Joseph:Psychotherapy by Reciprocal Inhibition, California, Stanford University Press, 1958.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Joseph E. O. Newton.

Additional information

This work was supported by grants from the American Heart Association and the National Heart Institute, U. S. Public Health Service (HE 06945).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Newton, J.E.O., Gantt, W.H. One-trial cardiac conditioning in dogs. Conditional Reflex 1, 251–265 (1966).

Download citation


  • Unconditional Stimulus
  • Avoidance Conditioning
  • Single Shock
  • Tone Onset
  • Heart Rate Level