Preference for shock signals as a function of the temporal accuracy of the signals

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Three groups of rats were exposed to pairs of three different contingencies on two sides of a shuttlebox. One signaled contingency provided 10-min danger and safety cues plus an additional 10-sec cue immediately preceeding shock (P-S), another signaled contingency provided 10-min danger and safety cues but random 10-sec cues with respect to shock (R-S), and an unsignaled contingency provided no safety period, but only a 20-min danger period during which shock could occur (NS). Signaled P-S and R-S contingencies were preferred in a choice test to the unsignaled NS contingency, and P-S was preferred to R-S. Independent tests of the fear-eliciting properties of the cues made in an off-baseline test of suppression of ongoing exploration indicated more freezing (fear) to the 10-sec cue in rats experiencing the P-S contingency. The results were interpreted as indicating a preference for cues providing more precise information about the temporal location of shock even when those cues were fear-eliciting. © 1977.

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  • Alexis C. Collier

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