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Response Rates Are Governed More by Time Cues Than Contingency

In: Timing & Time Perception
Authors:
David M. Freestone 1Department of Psychology, Brown University, Providence, 02912 RI, USA
2Present address: Center for Neural Science, New York University, 4 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003, USA

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Mika L. M. MacInnis 1Department of Psychology, Brown University, Providence, 02912 RI, USA

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Russell M. Church 1Department of Psychology, Brown University, Providence, 02912 RI, USA

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Classical conditioning is normally thought to strengthen associations between stimuli, and instrumental conditioning is thought to select responses. This difference has been used to account for the usual result that instrumental conditioning produces higher response rates than classical conditioning. The present experiment suggests that the comparison of instrumental and classical tasks has overlooked temporal cues that are often confounded with response contingency, and that the time cues exert a critical influence on response rate. When the two tasks are equated for temporal cues, the response rate of rats is similar in classical and instrumental tasks.

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