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Learn Behav. 2012 Sep;40(3):255-68. doi: 10.3758/s13420-012-0080-8.

Exploring a latent cause theory of classical conditioning.

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Department of Psychology and Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.


We frame behavior in classical conditioning experiments as the product of normative statistical inference. According to this theory, animals learn an internal model of their environment from experience. The basic building blocks of this internal model are latent causes-explanatory constructs inferred by the animal that partition observations into coherent clusters. Generalization of conditioned responding from one cue to another arises from the animal's inference that the cues were generated by the same latent cause. Through a wide range of simulations, we demonstrate where the theory succeeds and where it fails as a general account of classical conditioning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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