Generalization gradients of inhibition following auditory discrimination learning1
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A more direct method than the usual ones for obtaining inhibitory gradients requires that the dimension of the nonreinforced stimulus selected for testing be orthogonal to the dimensions of the reinforced stimulus. In that case, the test points along the inhibitory gradient are equally distant from the reinforced stimulus. An attempt was made to realize this condition by obtaining inhibitory gradients along the frequency dimension of a pure tone after discrimination training in which the nonreinforced stimulus was a pure tone (or tones), and the reinforced stimulus was either white noise or the absence of a tone. The results showed that some degree of specific inhibitory control was exerted by the frequency of the tone, although the gradients were broad and shallow in slope.A further experiment was conducted to see whether the modification of an excitatory gradient resulting from training to discriminate neighboring tones could arise from a simple interaction of inhibitory and excitatory gradients. The results indicated that it could not, since discrimination training produced a concentration of responding in the vicinity of the reinforced stimulus which cannot be derived from any plausible gradient of inhibition.
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