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Pavlovian conditioning: How excitation and inhibition determine ideomotion

Iliescu, Adela Florentina 2019. Pavlovian conditioning: How excitation and inhibition determine ideomotion. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Associative theories assume a simple ordinal mapping between the strength of an association between a conditioned stimulus (CS) and an unconditioned stimulus (US) and conditioned behaviour in an experimental preparation. Recent studies that have taken multiple measures of conditioned behaviour challenge this assumption. The pur- pose of this thesis is a better understanding of the nature of these individual differences in Pavlovian conditioning, combining empirical evidence with theoretical development. It has been observed that simple auto-shaping procedures result in marked individual differences: some rats show learning by interacting with the sign (sign-trackers, STs), others by interacting with the food-well or the goal (goal-trackers, GTs). In Chapter 2, I examined the sensitivity of these two behaviours (sign-tracking and goal-tracking) to changing contingencies. In both STs and GTs, US-oriented behaviour was more sensitive to contingency changes than CS-oriented behaviour. Most attempts to ex- plain this dissociation have appealed to a dual-mechanisms approach. In Chapter 3, I present a new theoretical model, HeiDI, which integrates learning and performance from a single-process perspective. In Chapter 4, I examine two of these predictions. The first prediction relates to how the US-value affects the distribution of conditioned behaviour. According to HeiDI, a higher US-value will result in higher levels of goal-tracking in contrast with lower US value. Experiment 3 suggested that that a higher US-value results in more CS-oriented behaviour, however this was not replicated in Experiment 4. The second prediction concerns an analysis of the feature positive effect, where the discrimination emerges more readily for a feature positive design. HeiDI predicts that a feature positive effect should be more evident in CS-oriented behaviour. Experiments 4 and 5 addressed this prediction, however the animals did not show learning in the feature negative design. The implications of the new findings and the new model are discussed in Chapter 5.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 April 2020
Date of Acceptance: 2 April 2020
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2020 08:48

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