The Forgetting of Stimulus Attributes in Latent Inhibition

Publication Title

Physiology & Behavior

Publication Date


Document Type





attribute forgetting, memory, latent inhibition, delay, CTA




Numerous studies have demonstrated that the forgetting of stimulus attributes is a common occurrence; that is, organisms forget the specific characteristics of training stimuli over long retention intervals, while retaining general information of the training stimuli themselves. However, most studies have examined this effect after a learning episode, and there have been virtually no accounts to test whether the forgetting of attributes occurs for stimuli presented prior to training. Therefore, this experiment was designed to test that possibility, and it examined whether the forgetting of stimulus attributes occurred prior to training for the flavor stimulus in a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) procedure. Specifically, a latent inhibition (LI) procedure was used to measure the extent of forgetting for a pre-exposed flavor over short and long retention intervals. The results indicate that rats forgot the specific characteristics of the flavor stimulus (CS) while retaining memory for pre-exposure sessions over a long retention interval. That is, subjects pre-exposed and conditioned with different concentrations of sucrose showed no LI effect with a 1-day delay between pre-exposure and training, but demonstrated a generalized LI with an 8-day delay between pre-exposure and conditioning. This experiment provides further evidence for the robustness of the forgetting of stimulus attributes, and demonstrates that this specific type of forgetting also occurs prior to the learning of a CTA task.