The proposed project is concerned with one of the most basic and fundamental forms of learning, Pavlovian conditioning. This type of learning involves coming to anticipate a biologically significant event or unconditioned stimulus (US) on the basis of an earlier signal or conditioned stimulus (CS). Prior research has employed arbitrary conditioned stimuli that have no inherent relation to the US, and the work has focused on how new responses come to be elicited by such conditioned stimuli. The proposed research is motivated by a new functional perspective on Pavlovian conditioning. Functional considerations suggest that Pavlovian learning in natural environments involves conditioned stimuli that have some pre-existing relation to the US, and the important consequence of the learning is not CS-elicited behavior but increased effectiveness in how the organism responds to the unconditioned stimulus. The proposed studies will examine this new perspective in studies of Pavlovian conditioning in the sexual behavior system, using nonhuman animal subjects: One set of experiments will examine learning with conditioned stimuli that are not arbitrary but include limited species typical cues. Another set of experiments will examine how Pavlovian conditioning alters unconditioned sexual behavior and produces changes in reproductive success. The research will further our understanding of Pavlovian learning and will integrate the functional approach of ethologists with the emphasis on learning mechanisms in traditional studies of associative learning.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-1 (01))
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Osborn, Bettina D
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University of Texas Austin
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Gutierrez, German; Domjan, Michael (2011) Conditioning of sexual proceptivity in female quail: measures of conditioned place preference. Behav Processes 87:268-73
Can, Adem; Domjan, Michael; Delville, Yvon (2007) Sexual experience modulates neuronal activity in male Japanese quail. Horm Behav 52:590-9
Matthews, R Nicolle; Domjan, Michael; Ramsey, Mary et al. (2007) Learning effects on sperm competition and reproductive fitness. Psychol Sci 18:758-62
Cetinkaya, Hakan; Domjan, Michael (2006) Sexual fetishism in a quail (Coturnix japonica) model system: test of reproductive success. J Comp Psychol 120:427-32
Domjan, Michael (2005) Pavlovian conditioning: a functional perspective. Annu Rev Psychol 56:179-206
Domjan, Michael; Cusato, Brian; Krause, Mark (2004) Learning with arbitrary versus ecological conditioned stimuli: evidence from sexual conditioning. Psychon Bull Rev 11:232-46
Koksal, Falih; Domjan, Michael; Kurt, Adnan et al. (2004) An animal model of fetishism. Behav Res Ther 42:1421-34
Krause, Mark (2003) Behavioral mechanisms and the neurobiology of conditioned sexual responding. Int Rev Neurobiol 56:1-34
Domjan, Michael; Mahometa, Michael J; Mills, Andrew D (2003) Relative contributions of the male and the female to sexual behavior and reproductive success in the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). J Comp Psychol 117:391-9
Krause, Mark A; Cusato, Brian; Domjan, Michael (2003) Extinction of conditioned sexual responses in male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica): role of species-typical cues. J Comp Psychol 117:76-86

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