Spatial Learning Set Acquisition in Rats

Anne M. Fagan, David S. Olton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Development of a learning set reflects the ability to abstract from a given problem the rules and procedures that can be generalized to novel stimuli. This ability has been demonstrated readily in rats only with tasks employing olfactory stimuli, suggesting a modality-specific capability. In the present experiment, rats were tested on a series of three go/no-go spatial discrimination tasks in order to evaluate their ability to develop a learning set in a modality other than olfaction. Each discrimination task was presented in a different room providing unique extra-maze cues. All rats reached the criterion performance of 18 correct responses in 20 consecutive trials on all three discriminations and showed a learning set. Some rats performed the third discrimination perfectly after only a single error. These results indicate that the ability to develop a learning set is not specific to the olfactory modality but reflects a more general cognitive capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section B
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1987


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