Influence of a beacon on spatial learning based on the shape of the test environment

Pearce J. M., Ward-Robinson J., Good M., Fussell C., AYDIN A.

JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-ANIMAL BEHAVIOR PROCESSES, vol.27, no.4, pp.329-344, 2001 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier identifier


In 5 experiments rats were required to escape from a triangular shaped pool by swimming to a submerged platform. The principal group of interest in each experiment received training with a beacon attached to the platform. The purpose of the experiments was to assess if the beacon overshadowed (Experiments 1-4) or blocked (Experiment 5) learning about the position of the platform with reference to the shape of the pool. The platform was located in the center of the pool for the first 2 experiments and in a corner for the remaining experiments. Although there was an overshadowing effect in Experiment 1, the remaining experiments failed to reveal any disruptive influence of the beacon on learning based on the shape of the pool. Moreover, in Experiments 3-5 there was an indication that the beacon facilitated such learning. The results suggest that spatial learning based on the shape of a test environment may not take place in the same way as that based on more discrete landmarks.