Goldfish Avoidance Acquisition: Is the Process Classical, Instrumental, or a Phototaxis?

Dominic Zerbolio, University of Missouri-St. Louis
L Wickstra


Various active-avoidance procedures and controls were run using goldfish in a shuttlebox where the CS, when used, was a sudden onset of illumination. In terms of increasing “avoid- ance” performance over days of training, CS-only, response-contingent US-only, and time- lapse groups showed significant “learning,” whereas explicitly unpaired CS and US pseudo- conditioning controls and US only (where US omission is not response contingent) did not show performance increases. The use of the pseudoconditioning procedure as a learning control for this animal seems questionable. Additionally, both classically and instrumentally trained groups showed high and comparable acquisition rates, confirming earlier findings. A negative phototaxis explanation is suggested that may account for these results.


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