Stimulus specificity in flavor acceptance learning.


Infusing rats with 6% carbohydrate whenever they drank a test fluid stimulated their intake of 0.03-0.3% saccharin, 0.9% sodium chloride, and 0.5% oligosaccharide solutions within 1 to 3 days, but did not greatly increase intake of cherry-flavored water, 2% saccharin, 0.45% sodium chloride, monosodium glutamate, 0.025% sucrose octaacetate, or 0.4% maltodextrin, when food was available adlib. In general, it was more difficult to detect an effect with aversive stimuli, but it was possible to detect a significant effect with one such aversive flavor by either increasing the number of animals to permit detection of a small effect, or by using a preference test. For most stimuli, however, rats that had been trained with food available and then tested when food deprived showed significant increases in fluid intake, compared to rats that had been given the same flavor without carbohydrate infusions, even when plain water was infused in all rats during the food deprivation test. The following forms of evidence indicate that the increased intake is due to a form of Pavlovian conditioning. It tends to increase over repeated trials and to persist for a day after the carbohydrate infusions have been discontinued. Indeed, in one experiment, increased intake even persisted for a day when the infusion conditions were reversed, such that control rats were infused with carbohydrate and experimental rats were infused with water. Increased ingestion is attenuated by preexposure to the infusion in the absence of an appropriate taste solution. Increased ingestion is attenuated by preexposure to the taste solution in the absence of infusions (i.e., latent inhibition). Although increased intake is a form of associative conditioning, it is unlike malaise-conditioned taste aversions because taste aversions were conditioned to monosodium glutamate, cherry flavor, and saccharin with equal ease. The ease with which infusion increased intake is influenced by at least three different factors, degree of aversiveness, stimulus intensity, and rats' innate predisposition to acquire certain stimulus-response relationships more readily than others.

Cite this paper

@article{Ramirez1996StimulusSI, title={Stimulus specificity in flavor acceptance learning.}, author={Israel Ramirez}, journal={Physiology & behavior}, year={1996}, volume={60 2}, pages={595-610} }