Associative Concept Learning in Animals: Issues and Opportunities.
Past research has demonstrated emergent conditional relations using a go/no-go procedure with pairs of figures displayed side-by-side on a computer screen. The present study sought to extend applications of this procedure. In Experiment 1, we evaluated whether emergent conditional relations could be demonstrated when two-component stimuli were displayed in figure-ground relationships-abstract figures displayed on backgrounds of different colors. Five normally capable adults participated. During training, each two-component stimulus was presented successively. Responses emitted in the presence of some stimulus pairs (A1B1, A2B2, A3B3, B1C1, B2C2 and B3C3) were reinforced, whereas responses emitted in the presence of other pairs (A1B2, A1B3, A2B1, A2B3, A3B1, A3B2, B1C2, B1C3, B2C1, B2C3, B3C1 and B3C2) were not. During tests, new configurations (AC and CA) were presented, thus emulating structurally the matching-to-sample tests employed in typical equivalence studies. All participants showed emergent relations consistent with stimulus equivalence during testing. In Experiment 2, we systematically replicated the procedures with stimulus compounds consisting of four figures (A1, A2, C1 and C2) and two locations (left - B1 and right - B2). All 6 normally capable adults exhibited emergent stimulus-stimulus relations. Together, these experiments show that the go/no-go procedure is a potentially useful alternative for studying emergent conditional relations when matching-to-sample is procedurally cumbersome or impossible to use.