Delay-induced attenuation of latent inhibition with a conditioned emotional response depends on CS-US strength

Luis G. De la Casa, Estrella Diaz, R. E. Lubow

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Latent Inhibition (LI) attenuation when a long delay is introduced between acquisition and test phases has been repeatedly observed using aversive conditioning procedures (e.g., Aguado, Symonds, & Hall, 1994). This effect has been used as evidence to support those theories that consider LI to be the result of a retrieval failure. We designed three experiments intended to control for a possible effect of incubation of fear as a possible source of delay-induced attenuated LI. Specifically, we examined the effects of a retention interval between conditioning and testing stages on LI using a 3-stage conditioned emotional response procedure (preexposure, conditioning, and testing). Experiment 1 showed that the LI effect was completely abolished in the delayed testing condition. Experiment 2 evaluated whether a process of fear incubation, developed during the retention interval but obscured by a ceiling effect, produced the attenuation of LI. To this end, we reduced magnitude of conditioning by decreasing US intensity and number of acquisition trials. Experiment 3 directly assessed the relationship between CS-US strength and fear incubation. Experiments 2 and 3 revealed that the apparent reduction of LI after the delay was, at least partially, the result of an incubation effect that is a function of the strength of the CS-US association. The results are discussed with respect to their implications for the different theories of LI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-76
Number of pages17
JournalLearning and Motivation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Context
  • Delay
  • Fear incubation
  • Latent inhibition


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