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Effects of neophobia and habituation on the poison-induced avoidance of exteroceptive stimuli in the rat.


Two experiments on the role of neophobia in poison-induced aversions to exteroceptive stimuli are reported. In Experiment 1, rats were given either 10 or 25 days of habituation to the test situation prior to conditioning. Those animals with the longer habituation period avoided a complex of novel exteroceptive stimuli while those with the shorter habituation period did not. In Experiment 2 rats initially avoided the more novel of two containers, but gradually came to eat equal amounts from both. A single pairing of toxicosis with consumption from either the novel or the familiar container reinstated the avoidance of the novel container in both cases. The results were discussed in terms of an interaction between habituation and conditioning procedures. It was suggested that previously reported differences between interoceptive and exteroceptive conditioning effects may have been influenced by the differential novelty of the two classes of stimuli in the test situation. It was further suggested that non-contingently poisoned control groups should routinely be included in poison avoidance conditioning studies.

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