Intratrial proactive interference in rats’ serial alternation performance in the radial maze
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Rats acquired a serial alternation task in an eight-arm radial maze that was partitioned into four pairs of arms. Each pair was associated with a different distal stimulus. Rats were initially forced to the left or right arm in each pair (the study segment) before being exposed to both arms in each pair (the free-choice or test segment). Only the previously blocked arm of each pair remained baited. Following initial training, proactive interference (PI) was induced by presenting rats with a forced-choice (prestudy) segment containing arm positions opposite those in the subsequent study segment. Such trials generated poorer free-choice accuracy than did trials without a prestudy segment. Forcing rats to both arms in the pair in a prestudy segment produced only transient PI. A slight improvement in rats’ free-choice performance was obtained by forcing them to the same arm position, but only when the test segment was delayed by 30 min. Increasing the interval between the prestudy and study segments from 2 to 30 min eliminated PI, but only when free-choice testing was delayed by 2 min rather than by 30 min. These results suggest that intratrial PI in this preparation was primarily due to confusion about which arm position in each pair had been visited during the last forced-choice segment.