Malleability of conditioned associations: Path dependence

Andrea M. Brown-Su, Louis D. Matzel, Elizabeth L. Gordon, Ralph R. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Using conditioned suppression of barpressing to investigate the stability of a conditioned stimulus–unconditioned stimulus (CS–UCS) association, the present authors gave 151 water-deprived rats either a few pairings of the CS with a strong footshock UCS or many pairings with a weak footshock UCS so that barpress suppression in response to CS was equated. Exp I established training parameters that yielded this equivalence. Specifically, rapid acquisition to a preasymptotic level of responding with strong shock produced suppression comparable to the asymptotic level reached more slowly with weak shock. Exp II showed that although equivalent performance was obtained from extensive conditioning with a weak shock or limited conditioning with a strong shock, only extensive conditioning with weak shock resulted in retarded acquisition of an association between that same CS and a footshock level perceived as midway between the 2 initial training shock intensities as implied by asymptotic performance in Exp I. Exp III demonstrated that the observed retardation in Ss given many conditioning trials with weak shock was CS-specific. It is concluded that the malleability of learned behavior is not simply a function of initial associative strength but is dependent on the path during initial acquisition. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)420-427
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1986

Bibliographical note

Accession Number: 1987-06550-001. PMID: 3772306 Other Journal Title: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition. Partial author list: First Author & Affiliation: Brown-Su, Andrea M.; State U New York, Binghamton. Release Date: 19870301. Correction Date: 20140113. Publication Type: Journal (0100), Peer Reviewed Journal (0110). Format Covered: Print. Document Type: Journal Article. Language: EnglishMajor Descriptor: Conditioned Stimulus; Conditioned Suppression; Contextual Associations; Unconditioned Stimulus. Minor Descriptor: Rats; Shock; Stimulus Intensity; Water Deprivation. Classification: Electrophysiology (2530). Population: Animal (20). References Available: Y. Page Count: 8. Issue Publication Date: Oct, 1986. Publication History: Revised Date: May 12, 1986; First Submitted Date: Jan 6, 1986. Copyright Statement: American Psychological Association. 1986.


  • association of CS & strong vs weak footshock UCS &/vs prior training in conditioned suppression of bar pressing
  • malleability of learned behavior
  • water-deprived rats
  • Animals
  • Association Learning
  • Conditioning (Psychology)
  • Electroshock
  • Female
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Conditioned Stimulus
  • Conditioned Suppression
  • Contextual Associations
  • Unconditioned Stimulus
  • Shock
  • Stimulus Intensity
  • Water Deprivation


Dive into the research topics of 'Malleability of conditioned associations: Path dependence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this