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Disinhibition (learning)

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The term "disinhibition" is also used to describe a fundamental process of associative learning, specifically within the realm of classical (Pavlovian) conditioning. Disinhibition is the recurrence of a conditioned response after extinction trials have eliminated said response elicited by the presentation of a novel stimulus. The following process best illustrates this form of disinhibition:

An organism undergoes some series of classical conditioning trials until the conditioned stimulus reliably elicits a conditioned response. At this time, the organism then undergoes extinction trials until the conditioned stimulus no longer reliably elicits the conditioned response. Disinhibition occurs when, after these extinction trials, a new, novel stimulus is presented to the organism and at which time the organism again begins to show the previously extinguished conditioned response. This phenomenon is not to be confused with spontaneous recovery, though the concepts seem similar.

Disinhibition is the temporary increase in strength of an extinguished response due to an unrelated stimulus effect. This differs from spontaneous recovery, which is the temporary increase in strength of a conditioned response, which is likely to occur during extinction after the passage of time. These effects occur during both classical and operant conditioning.[citation needed]

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