Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Contextual control of biconditional task performance: evidence for cue and response competition in rats

Haddon, J. E.; George, D. N.; Killcross, S.


J. E. Haddon

S. Killcross


A novel paradigm is presented that was designed to mimic aspects of cue and response competition seen in humans in conflict procedures such as the Stroop task. Rats were trained simultaneously on two biconditional discrimination tasks, one auditory and one visual, in two different contexts: C1, in which A1:LP1 → R, A2:LP2 → R; and C2, in which V1:LP1 → R, V2:LP2 → R, where C1/C2 represent different training contexts (produced by different operant chambers), A1/A2 are different auditory cues, V1/V2 are different visual cues, LP1/LP2 are discrete operant responses, and R is reward. At test, rats received presentations of audiovisual compounds of these training stimuli in extinction. These compounds had dictated either the same (A1V1 or A2V2) or different (A1V2 or A2V1) responses during training: termed congruent and incongruent trials, respectively. Experiment 1 showed that following equal training on the two biconditional tasks, the contextual cues came to control responding to conflicting information provided by incongruent stimulus compounds such that animals responded according to the stimulus element previously trained in that test context. Experiment 2 demonstrated that differential training on the biconditional discriminations (with rats receiving training on the two discriminations in the ratio 3:1) resulted in greater interference from the overtrained task when animals were tested in the undertrained context. This finding is similar to the classic Stroop asymmetry seen in human performance whereby dominant word reading interferes with colour naming for incongruent colour-word compounds. Further analysis also revealed some evidence for a reverse Stroop effect in which the undertrained stimulus element interfered with performance on the overtrained task. © 2008 The Experimental Psychology Society.


Haddon, J. . E., George, D. . N., & Killcross, S. (2008). Contextual control of biconditional task performance: evidence for cue and response competition in rats. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61(9), 1307-1320.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 15, 2007
Online Publication Date Sep 1, 2008
Publication Date Sep 1, 2008
Print ISSN 1747-0218
Electronic ISSN 1747-0226
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 61
Issue 9
Pages 1307-1320
Keywords Cortex; Model interference; Conflict behavior; Memory
Public URL
Publisher URL