Animal learning & behavior

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 377–389 | Cite as

Acquisition and extinction of differential responses to signals paired with shock or shock omission in goldfish: Evidence for truly discriminated avoidance learning

  • Dominic J. Zerbolio
  • Joel L. Royalty


Goldfish trained to discriminate between signals paired with shock (S−) and signals paired with shock omission (S+) with a linear presentation procedure, originally learned (OL) to control the signal state of a shuttle box and showed a decided preference for the S+ signal. In Experiment 1, following OL, groups had one OL signal replaced (S+ or S−), both signals replaced (S+ and S−), or the OL signals reversed (S+ and S− reversed) and were then tested in a transfer training procedure. In transfer, groups with one signal replaced maintained discriminated performance at OL levels; the S+ replaced group was slightly superior to the S− replaced group on the first day of transfer. With both OL signals replaced, discrimination dropped to chance performance levels, whereas, with OL signal shock pairing reversed, discrimination performance dropped below chance levels. In Experiment 2, following OL, extinction procedures consisted of turning off the shocker (0% shock) or of shocking 100% or a random 25% of the trials. A fourth extinction procedure (R,) retained the trial start response-dependent shock-omission contingency, but shock differentiating the S+ and S− signals was eliminated entirely. Extinction of the S+/S− discrimination was measured both during extinction training per se and with reversal retraining of the S+/S− discrimination later. Groups for which the OL S+ was paired with shock during extinction extinguished on both measures, but groups for which the OL S− was paired with shock omission did not extinguish, especially as shown by the reversal test procedure. Theoretical implications and the implications for several conditioning procedures are discussed.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominic J. Zerbolio
    • 1
  • Joel L. Royalty
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MissouriSt. Louis

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