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Escape from shock versus escape from shock accompanied by a visual stimulus in rats

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Two groups of 15 rats each were trained in a shuttle box to escape foot-shock either unsignalled or presented in compound with a visual cue: darkness. The visual cue presented in shock compartment amplifies the behavioral tendency actually prevailing in the response repertory of the rat. During the 1st session the compound enhanced the species-specific flight resulting in shortening of the rat?s escape latency. Thereafter, during subsequent sessions, darkness exaggerated resistance to enter the other compartment, thus escape latencies were longer under compounded than under unsignalled procedure. The darkness cue reduces the intertrial response rate relative to the unsignalled group. This latter finding supports the discrimination model of the effect, since the compound helps the animals to discriminate the illuminated ?safe? period between trials from the aversive shock period. Our data seem to suggest that the darkness presented synchronously with escapable grid-shock acquires aversive properties.
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K. Zielinski, Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, 3 Pasteur St., 02-093 Warsaw, Poland, Email:
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