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J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2010 Jan;36(1):126-36. doi: 10.1037/a0016055.

Using context to resolve temporal ambiguity.

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Department of Psychology, State University of New York (SUNY)-Binghamton, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000, USA.


Three conditioned lick suppression experiments with rats examined the role of the context in the selection and integration of independently acquired interval relationships. In Experiment 1, rats were exposed to separate conditioned stimuli 1 and 2 (CS1-CS2) pairings with 2 different interval relationships, each in its own distinctive context, X or Y. The resultant integration was determined by the training context (X or Y) in which unconditioned stimulus (US)-CS2 backward pairings occurred, as assessed in a third neutral context (Z). In Experiment 2, rats experienced CS1-CS2 pairings with 2 different interval relationships as in Experiment 1, and then received US-CS2 pairings in both contexts X and Y. The testing context (i.e., X or Y) determined the resultant integration. In Experiment 3, rats were exposed to CS1-CS2 pairings in 2 different interval relationships each in different phases (i.e., Phases 1 and 2), and then in Phase 3 received US-CS2 pairings. The temporal context of testing (i.e., short or long retention interval) determined the resultant integration. Thus, both physical and temporal context can be used to disambiguate conflicting temporal information.

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