A short history of latent inhibition research

R. E. Lubow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The first latent inhibition (LI) paper was published 50 years ago (Lubow &Moore,1959), and the present book marks that anniversary. As such, it offers a convenient time for providing a historical perspective to a phenomenon that was born by accident, barely survived the first several post-parturitional years, and yet developed into a flourishing research enterprise, with activities cutting across such diverse fields as learning theory, schizophrenia, and even creativity. Indeed, in the weekly episodes of “Prison Break” on American TV, the concept of LI has even reached prime-time television. In spite of the relatively widespread use of the LI paradigm in the laboratory, and, in particular, because of its adoption in research areas that are far removed from its origins, the present editors felt that there was a need to acquaint the larger audience with both the history and recent advances in LI research and theory. Before describing the serendipitous discovery of LI, this apparently simple, yet ubiquitous, phenomenon requires a definition and a description of its adaptive function. Specifically, LI is a name for the decrease in the ability to acquire or express a new association to a stimulus that has previously received passive, non-reinforced preexposures, as compared to a stimulus that is either novel (not preexposed) or one that has been reinforced or attended. Importantly, LI is not a process. It is an effect that, as will be seen, is in search of a process that generates it.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLatent Inhibition
Subtitle of host publicationCognition, Neuroscience and Applications to Schizophrenia
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780511730184
ISBN (Print)9780521517331
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


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