Higher Order Conditioning in the Newborn Rat: Effects of Temporal Disparity Imply Infantile Encoding of Simultaneous Events
Infant rats in the age range 8 to 16 days postnatal (P8–16) outperform older animals at learning an association between neutral olfactory stimuli, but only with simultaneous presentation of the odors; sequential presentation eliminates or reverses the infants' advantage. Such results suggest that infants and older animals differ in how they learn simultaneous events. This study tested whether the infant's special effectiveness with such learning is peculiar to P8–16 or is a general feature of infantile naïvete seen in newborns as well. At 3 hr of age newborn rats exhibited strikingly robust sensory preconditioning and second‐order conditioning, but only for simultaneous odors. Any degree of temporal disparity between odors (even 0 sec) eliminated sensory preconditioning and markedly reduced second‐order conditioning. This suggests that the weak differentiation among simultaneously presented stimuli in newborns may promote something similar to perceptual configuration.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
10.1207/S15327078IN0402_01 About DOI