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In a discrimination learning task the organism is required to respond differentially to different stimuli

In the operant conditioning paradigm responses to one stimulus (S+) are reinforced and response to another stimulus (S-) are punished or ignored. This results in the emitting of the response in the presence of S+ but not with the presentation of S-

In a classical conditioning paradigm in the presence of one stimulus, the CS+ (conditioned stimulus) and US (unconditioned stimulus) are paired, but in the presence of another stimulus CS- they are not. Following successful discrimination learning the CR (conditioned response) occurs in the presence of CS+ but not with CS-.

A discriminative response is made by an organism when it chooses between the stimuli that it has learnt are different in order to obtain a reward.

In a typical example a rat will be trained to distinguish between different coloured lights and can then learn to earn a reward for always pressing the lever under the red one.

With discrimination evident in the response it is possible to explore the sensory acuity of animals and their difference thresholds.




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