Methods & Designs

Behavior Research Methods & Instrumentation

, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 430-434

Classical conditioning of the nictitating membrane response of the lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris)

  • Samuel H. GruberAffiliated withDivision of Biology and Living Resources, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami
  • , Neil SchneidermanAffiliated withDivision of Biology and Living Resources, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami

Abstract

An experimental group of lemon sharks received 100 daily presentations of light flash as the conditioned stimulus (CS) and electric shock as the unconditioned stimulus (US) in a classical conditioning situation. The conditioned responses (CRs) and unconditioned responses (URs) under observation consisted of extensions of the nictitating membrane. Separate control groups received either (a) no CS or US, (b) CS-alone, or (c) completely random presentations of CS and US. Few CRs occurred in the experimental group at the outset of conditioning, but the percentage of CRs during the second half of the first acquisition session exceeded 95%. Conditioning stabilized above 95% CRs during Acquisition Sessions 3 through 7. These responses could not be attributed to pseudoconditioning, sensitization, or other nonassociative factors. When the experimental group was subsequently given six CS-alone sessions, the course of extinction was gradual. Most results seemed similar to those previously obtained during classical conditioning of the nictitating membrane in rabbits.