|Abstract: In recent decades researchers in the field of Pavlovian conditioning have focused on how conditioned responding to a target conditioned stimulus (CS) is affected by the presence of nontarget CSs. A common observation is that target and nontarget CSs compete for control over conditioned responding in the sense that their response potentials are inversely correlated. In the three and a half decades since the theoretical model of Rescorla and Wagner inspired a wealth of research into cue competition, investigators have uncovered a number of interesting empirical regularities. Unfortunately, the dissemination of these regularities to a wider community outside associative learning circles has been obscured by the tendency of Pavlovian investigators to discuss their research in a heavily theory-laden language. The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce undergraduates to the field of cue competition who have been otherwise put off by constructs such as positive and negative associations, memorial representations, and comparator processes. In particular, I will consider what happens to conditioned responding when nontarget CSs are presented before, interspersed among, or after the target CS-US pairings, and whether those nontarget CSs are discrete or contextual. Conditions under which cue competition, or its opposite, cue facilitation, are observed will be discussed.
Steven Stout earned a Masters in experimental psychology at Northeast Louisiana University where he specialized in the study of drug reinforcement and Hull-Spence models of learning. His doctorate is from Texas Christian University, where under the directorship of Mauricio Papini, he investigated the separate contribution of after-reinforcement and after-nonreinforcement factors to the reinforcement omission effect in rats and pigeons. Dr. Stout worked as a postdoctoral fellow under the sponsorship of Ralph Miller. With Dr. Miller, Dr. Stout has investigated determinants of cue interaction versus cue facilitation in Pavlovian preparations and co-authored a mathematical implementation and extension of Miller and colleague's extended comparator hypothesis. He then taught at Valdosta State University. He now teaches at Jacksonville State University where he has become involved in the application of behavioral principles to primary and middle school education.|