Animal Learning & Behavior

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 447–456 | Cite as

Signal-directed behavior in the rat: Interactions between the nature of the CS and the nature of the UCS

  • Graham C. L. Davey
  • John H. Phillips
  • Simon Witty


Two experiments are described, which involved the investigation of interactions between the nature of the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the nature of the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) in producing signal-centered behavior. In Experiment 1, rats received response-independent heat reinforcement in a cold environment. For some groups, this heat UCS was signaled by presentations of a standard aluminum retractable lever; for other groups, it was signaled by a retractable lever covered in acrylic fur (furry lever CS). Only the subjects that received the furry lever CS paired with heat exhibited differential CS-contact behavior, when compared with unpaired, aluminum lever, and warm control subjects. In Experiment 2, hungry rats received pairings of either an aluminum or a furry lever with food (UCS). When compared with unpaired controls, only the subjects that received the aluminum lever paired with food showed differential signal-directed behavior; the subjects receiving the furry lever CS did not show differential contact with the CS, but instead exhibited differential food tray entry behavior during CS presentation. In the two studies, the signal-directed behavior exhibited by subjects resembled either thermoregulatory or feeding behaviors characteristic of rats. The results suggest that signal-directed behavior is determined by a complex interaction between the ecological relevance of the CS and the nature of the UCS—an interaction that can best be described in terms of a behavior systems model of conditioned responding.


Conditioned Stimu Ecological Relevance Heat Lamp Conditioned Stimu Presentation Retractable Lever 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham C. L. Davey
    • 1
  • John H. Phillips
    • 1
  • Simon Witty
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DivisionThe City UniversityLondonEngland

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