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Title: Giving Contexts Informative Value Makes Information Context-Specific
Authors: León, Samuel P.
Abad, María J. F.
Rosas, Juan M.
Abstract: Contexts are sometimes informative about relationships that occur within them and sometimes not. The goal of this experiment was to determine the effect of that information value on the context-specificity of learning. Participants performed an instrumental task within a computer game in which they defended different Andalucı´a beaches (contexts) by destroying several attackers (planes or tanks) by clicking on them (responses) with the mouse. A colored sensor (discriminative stimulus) indicated to participants which attacker could be destroyed in a given trial – that is, which of the instrumental responses would be reinforced. Three groups of participants received training on a discrimination between two discriminative stimuli (X and Y) in Context A. The discrimination was reversed in Context B for Group I (informative). Group NI1 received the same X-Y discrimination in Context B. Group NI2 did not receive training with X and Y in Context B. Additionally, participants received training with cue Z in Context A, which consistently signaled the same outcome. A single test trial with Z revealed a lower response rate in Context B than in Context A in Group I, while no differences across contexts were found in Groups NI1 and NI2. Results suggest that when the context is informative about relationships within the experimental setting, even those relationships for which the context is not informative become context-dependen.
Keywords: attention, context-switch effect, discrimination, human beings, instrumental learning, renewal
Issue Date: 2010
Citation: León, S. P., Abad, M. J. F., & Rosas, J. M. (2010). Giving contexts informative value makes information context specific. Experimental Psychology, 57, 46-53.
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