Optional-shift behaviour in rats: a novel procedure for assessing attentional processes in discrimination learning.

Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)

PubMedID: 17455064

Duffaud AM, Killcross S, George DN. Optional-shift behaviour in rats: a novel procedure for assessing attentional processes in discrimination learning. Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2007;60(4):534-42.
A novel, optional-shift procedure was used to assess changes in the attention paid to stimuli that occur over the course of discrimination learning. In Phase 1, rats were trained on a conditional instrumental discrimination using audiovisual stimulus compounds; one stimulus dimension (auditory or visual) was relevant to the solution of the discrimination, the other was irrelevant. In Phase 2, all animals received three sessions of training with novel audiovisual compounds where both dimensions were equally diagnostic. Results from probe test trials indicated that, during Phase 2, animals learnt most about cues belonging to the stimulus dimension that was relevant during Phase 1. These results suggest that over the course of discrimination learning there was an increase in the amount of attention paid to relevant stimuli and/or a decrease in the attention paid to irrelevant stimuli.