Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In

Psychology

First Advisor

Amy Poremba

Abstract

Learning to escape aversive stimuli and effectively predicting the consequences of different cues provides animals with an increased chance of survival. Discriminative avoidance conditioning affords the opportunity to examine these specific behaviors. The present experiment investigated the influence of a visual signal on an auditory discriminative active avoidance conditioning task. Building on the work of Gabriel and colleagues (Freeman et al., 1997; Poremba and Gabriel, 1997, 1999), originally conducted in rabbits, an adaptation of the discriminative active avoidance paradigm was implemented using male rats. Animals were trained to avoid a signaled shock (US) by spinning a small wheel during an auditory cue, the positive conditioned stimulus (CS+). A second auditory cue signaled the absence of shock, the negative conditioned stimulus (CS-).

A visual safety signal was added following a correct response to the CS+ (successful avoidance of the shock). Three groups were formed based on experience with the visual safety signal: animals that never had training with the visual signal, animals that had the visual signal added during their training, and animals that began training with the visual signal. Animals trained with the visual safety signal showed a decrease in the number of days need to learn the task and the percentage of animals that learned the task increased. These results suggest that a visual safety signal enhances learning during an auditory discriminative avoidance conditioning task. This task will be used to expand exploration of the active avoidance neural circuitry and investigate the circuitry underlying the visual safety signal.

Public Abstract

Learning to escape aversive stimuli and effectively predicting the consequences of different cues provides animals with an increased chance of survival. Discriminative avoidance conditioning affords the opportunity to examine these specific behaviors. The present experiment investigated the influence of a visual signal on an auditory discriminative active avoidance conditioning task. Building on the work of Gabriel and colleagues (Freeman et al., 1997; Poremba and Gabriel, 1997, 1999), originally conducted in rabbits, an adaptation of the discriminative active avoidance paradigm was implemented using male rats. Animals were trained to avoid a signaled shock (US) by spinning a small wheel during an auditory cue, the positive conditioned stimulus (CS+). A second auditory cue signaled the absence of shock, the negative conditioned stimulus (CS-).

A visual safety signal was added following a correct response to the CS+ (successful avoidance of the shock). Three groups were formed based on experience with the visual safety signal: animals that never had training with the visual signal, animals that had the visual signal added during their training, and animals that began training with the visual signal. Animals trained with the visual safety signal showed a decrease in the number of days need to learn the task and the percentage of animals that learned the task increased. These results suggest that a visual safety signal enhances learning during an auditory discriminative avoidance conditioning task. This task will be used to expand exploration of the active avoidance neural circuitry and investigate the circuitry underlying the visual safety signal.

Keywords

publicabstract, Avoidance, Learning

Pages

vi, 31

Bibliography

27-31

Copyright

Copyright 2016 Jessica Mary Bowden

Included in

Psychology Commons

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