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Temporal control of conditioned responding in goldfish.

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Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


The peak procedure was used to characterize response timing during acquisition and maintenance of conditioned responding in goldfish. Subjects received light-shock pairings with a 5- or 15-s interstimulus interval. On interspersed peak trials, the conditioned stimulus light was presented for 45 s and no shock was delivered. Peaks in the conditioned response, general activity, occurred at about the time of the expected unconditioned stimulus, and variability in the activity distribution was scalar. Modeling of the changes in the activity distributions over sessions revealed that the temporal features of the conditioned response changed very little during acquisition. The data suggest that times are learned early in training, and, contrary to I. P. Pavlov's (1927/1960) concept of "inhibition of delay," that timing is learning when to respond rather than learning when not to respond.

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