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Garcia and Koelling One-Trial Learning Experiment with rats

This is a guest post from former VCE student Cait Sexton for VCE Psychology. If you want to write a guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

TITLE OF RESEARCH: Garcia and Koelling One-Trial Learning Experiment with rats (1966)

AIM: To investigate if thirsty rats can develop a taste aversion after one trial.

HYPOTHESIS: It was hypothesised that thirsty rats would develop a taste aversion to saccharine flavoured water paired with lights and noise after one dose of illness inducing x-rays or a painful electric shock.

IV: Drinking saccharine-flavoured water paired with light and noise followed by receiving either a painful electric shock or a dose of illness-inducing x-rays

DV: Whether the rats developed a taste aversion to the saccharine-flavoured water.

PARTICIPANTS: Thirsty rats

MATERIALS: Saccharine-flavoured water

PROCEDURE: Thirsty rats were offered saccharine-flavoured water to drink from a tube which was paired with a bright flash and clicking noise. After the rats had lick the tube one group would receive a painful electric shock and the other group would receive a dose of illness inducing x-rays. Afterwards the rats were offered saccharine flavoured water that was not paired with light or noise, or unflavoured water that was paired with either lights or noise.

RESULTS: Rats that had originally been given the painful shock refused water when it was given with the light and noise, but drank saccharine flavoured water. Rats that became ill because of the effects of the x-rays avoided the saccharine flavour, but drank water accompanied with the same light and noise.

LIMITATIONS AND EV/CV:

-Time lapse in between trials

-Sample size

-How thirsty rats were

CONCLUSIONS: It can be concluded that taste aversion can be acquired through one-trial learning.

GENERALISATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Rats may tend to associate stimuli in particular ways that foster survival. Taste aversions based on just one exposure can be very adaptive and allow animals to learn what not to eat so they can live longer.

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