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Representational blending in human conditional learning: Implications for associative theory

Hodder, K. I.; George, D. N.; Killcross, A. S.; Honey, R. C.


K. I. Hodder

A. S. Killcross

R. C. Honey


In two experiments, participants were presented with pictures of different foods (A, B, C, D, X, Y) and learned which combinations resulted in an allergic reaction in a fictitious patient, Mr X. In Problem 1, when A or B (but not C or D) was combined with food X an allergic reaction occurred, and when C or D (but not A or B) was combined with Y an allergic reaction occurred. In Experiment 1, participants also received Problem 2 in which A, B, C, and D interacted with foods V and W either in the same way as X and Y, respectively, or in a different way. Participants performed more proficiently in the former than in the latter condition. In Experiment 2, after training on Problem 1, participants judged whether or not novel combinations of foods (e.g., AB, CD, AD, CB) would cause an allergic reaction in Mr X. They were no more likely to indicate that AB or CD would cause an allergic reaction than AD or CB, but made their judgements more rapidly and with greater confidence on AB and CD trials than on AD and CB trials. These results (1) indicate that shared representations come to be addressed by the components of similar compounds (e.g., AX and BX) that have predicted the same outcome (an allergic reaction), and (2) are inconsistent with standard, associative theories of learning, but (3) are consistent with findings from nonhuman animals and with a connectionist interpretation of these findings.


Hodder, K. I., George, D. N., Killcross, A. S., & Honey, R. C. (2003). Representational blending in human conditional learning: Implications for associative theory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section B. Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 56(2b), 223-238.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 31, 2003
Publication Date 2003-05
Print ISSN 0272-4995
Electronic ISSN 1464-1321
Publisher Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 56
Issue 2b
Pages 223-238
Keywords Experimental and Cognitive Psychology; Physiology (medical); Physiology; General Psychology; Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
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