Expression of a taste aversion conditioned with an odor-taste compound: Overshadowing is relatively weak in weanlings and decreases over a retention interval in adults

Research paper by Philipp J. Kraemer, Nancy A. Lariviere, Norman E. Spear

Indexed on: 01 Jun '88Published on: 01 Jun '88Published in: Animal learning & behavior


Adult rats were injected with lithium chloride (LiCl) after consumption of a novel flavor (chocolate milk) that either was or was not presented together with a novel ambient odor (banana) as a compound conditioned stimulus (CS). In Experiment 1, the adults’ consumption of the flavor 24 h after conditioning was compared with that of weanling rats given the same conditioning treatment on Postnatal Day 21. The results confirmed previous indications that the reduction in aversion observed for adults conditioned with the compound CS (overshadowing) was weak or nonexistent in weanlings. After a longer retention interval (21 days), there was no evidence of overshadowing in adults despite maintained retention of the basic conditioned aversion. In Experiment 2 this decrease in overshadowing after a long retention interval was replicated with adult animals and extended to a different method of testing. The form of the effect was the same as in Experiment 1: The decrease in overshadowing occurred over the retention interval without loss in retention of the basic taste aversion; the decrease in overshadowing was a consequence of anincrease in the flavor aversion displayed by animals conditioned with the compound CS. The impaired flavor aversion (i.e., the overshadowing) observed shortly after conditioning apparently was due to factors associated with memory retrieval, rather than to reduced attentional or associative strength.