Stress induced disruption of relational responding in the albino rat



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Twenty female albino rats were trained on a black-gray discrimination task in a Y-maze to an 18 out of 20 correct choice criterion. Gray was always reinforced. After criterion was reached the animals were divided into 2 matched groups. Both groups were now run for 10 trials on a gray-white choice without reinforcement to test for transposition. Half of these subjects were given 5 sec. of shock in the start box before each trial while the other half received no treatment in the start box. The emotional group (shock) showed significantly less transposition than the non-shock group. A control group was run without reinforcement on a gray-white preference choice for 10 trials and then were given 10 trials with shock to see if shock alone would alter initial preferences. No significant difference in preference was found in the non-shock vs. shock conditions for the control group. The results are discussed in relation to Bridger's (1956) hypothesis concerning emotionally induced shifts from second to first signalling system functioning.



Stress (Psychology), Discrimination learning, Rat behavior