Responses eliminated by noncontingent or negatively contingent reinforcement recover in extinction.
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Autoshaped key pecking in pigeons was eliminated by presenting reinforcers only during non-CS periods (negatively contingent reinforcement) or in both non-CS and CS periods (noncontingent reinforcement). In either case, when all reinforcers were subsequently removed (simple extinction), responding recovered strongly (Experiment 1). Recovery in extinction occurred only if the CS was in a conditioned state when non-CS reinforcers were introduced (Experiment 2). Recovery from noncontingent reinforcement was virtually complete, since total responding in extinction after response elimination was not less than in control groups extinguished without an intervening response-elimination phase (Experiment 3). Recovery also occurred for nonautoshapable, instrumentally reinforced key pecking (Experiment 4). The hypothesis that recovery is due to reinstatement of the non-CS stimulus conditions of acquisition (absence of food) was not supported (Experiments 5 and 6). Other accounts of recovery are considered.
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