Naturalistic stimuli are cues that reliably precede biologically significant events (e.g., an unconditioned stimulus, US) that animals have encountered recurrently in their evolutionary histories. Thus, a natural precursor of a US is regarded as a naturalistic stimulus given its inherent relationship with the US.
From the traditional associative perspective, conditioned responses should develop regardless of the preexisting relations between the conditioned stimulus (CS) and unconditioned stimulus (US). Accordingly, any stimulus could be paired with any US as effectively as any other stimulus to produce conditioned responding. This view calls forth the idea that prior to conditioning the CS, by definition, is “neutral” and therefore the CS is arbitrary with respect to its potential to elicit a CR after being paired with a US. As Pavlov once...
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