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Encoding specific associative memories

Lin, Tzu-Ching Esther 2010. Encoding specific associative memories. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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The overarching aim of this thesis was to examine the nature of what is encoded during simple associative learning and configural learning. The experiments used rats as subjects and appetitive conditioning designs to assess the validity of two assumptions that are prevalent within standard accounts of learning in animals. First, animals simply represent the patterns of stimulation that are currently present in the environment. Second, that although the conditions that prevailed during the acquisition of associative knowledge have a marked effect on the strength of the resulting association, the association itself is "blind" with respect to the origin of this influence. The results presented in Chapters 2 and 3 undermine the first assumption by showing that associatively provoked (Experiments 1-3) and short-term traces (Experiments 4-6) can be assimilated into configural representations. The results presented in Chapter 4, from studies involving control rats (Experiment 7) and rats with lesions of the hippocampus (Experiment 8), indicate that animals ordinarily represent the nature of the stimulus trace (immediate or short-term) in the associative structures that are acquired during conditioning. The findings from Chapter 4 are inconsistent with the view that associative learning is blind with respect to the nature of the encoding conditions. Taken together, the novel results presented in this thesis reveal that what is encoded during simple associative learning and configural learning is much richer than has hitherto been realized.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
ISBN: 9781303191596
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2017 08:39

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