The effects of stimulus distribution form during trace conditioning

Charlotte Bonardi, Dómhnall J. Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
143 Downloads (Pure)


Three experiments examined the effect of distribution form of the trace interval on trace conditioning. In Experiments 1 and 2, two groups of rats were conditioned to a fixed-duration conditioned stimulus (CS) in a trace interval procedure; rats in Group Fix received a fixed-duration trace interval, whereas for rats in Group Var the trace interval was of variable duration. Responding during the CS was higher in Group Var than in Group Fix, whereas during the trace interval this difference in responding reversed-Group Fix showed higher response rates than Group Var. Experiment 3 examined whether the greater response rate observed during the CS in Group Var was due to a performance effect or the acquisition of greater associative strength by the CS. Following trace conditioning, the rats from Experiment 1 underwent a second phase of delay conditioning with the same CS; a 5-s auditory stimulus was presented in compound with the last 5 s of the 15-s CS, and the unconditioned stimulus (US) was delivered at the offset of the CSs. On test with the auditory stimulus alone, subjects in Group Var showed lower response rates during the auditory stimulus than subjects in Group Fix. We interpreted these findings as evidence that the superior responding in Group Var during the CS was a result of it acquiring greater associative strength than in Group Fix.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-297
Number of pages13
JournalQuarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)
Issue number2
Early online date01 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • associative strength
  • distribution form
  • rats
  • timing
  • Trace conditioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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