Spatial contiguity facilitates Pavlovian second-order conditioning

Robert A. Rescorla, Christopher L. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

98 Scopus citations


Two experiments investigated the effects of spatial contiguity upon the formation of 2nd-order conditioning in female Carneaux pigeons. Exp I (n = 12) used an autoshaping procedure to pair 2 visual stimuli, S2 and S1, after S1 had previously been paired with food. The resulting 2nd-order conditioning of S2 was superior when both stimuli appeared on the same response key within a trial than on different keys. Exp II (n = 24) found a similar importance of spatial contiguity between S2 and S1 in a conditioned suppression paradigm. In addition, consistently presenting S2 and S1 in the same spatial location produced superior conditioning compared with varying their spatial relation from trial to trial. The design of these experiments was such as to imply that spatial contiguity facilitates performance by improving the formation of associations rather than by promoting stimulus generalization of pseudoconditioning. Moreover, the observation of a facilitative effect of spatial contiguity between S1 and S2 in 2 different paradigms that use a qualitatively different UCS and evokes different responses implies some generality for the findings. Consequently, results suggest that spatially contiguous stimuli are especially associable in Pavlovian conditioning paradigms. (17 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-161
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1979


  • CS2 on same vs different keys in autoshaping vs suppression, 2nd-order Pavlovian conditioning, pigeons
  • appearance of both CS1 &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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