Stimuli associated with the cancellation of food and its cues enhance eating but display negative incentive value

Peter C. Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Initially neutral conditioned stimuli paired with food often acquire motivating properties, including serving as secondary reinforcers, enhancing instrumental responding in Pavlovian-instrumental transfer procedures, and potentiating food consumption under conditions of food satiation. Interestingly, cues associated with the cancellation of food and food cues may also potentiate food consumption (e.g., Galarce and Holland, 2009), despite their apparent negative correlations with food delivery. In three experiments with rats, we investigated conditions under which potentiation of feeding by such “interruption stimuIi” (ISs) develops, and some aspects of the content of that learning. Although in all three experiments ISs enhanced food consumption beyond control levels, they were found to act as conditioned inhibitors for anticipatory food cup entry (Experiment 1), to serve as conditioned punishers of instrumental responding (Experiment 2), and to suppress instrumental lever press responding in a Pavlovian instrumental transfer procedure (Experiment 3). Furthermore, when given concurrent choice between different foods, an IS enhanced consumption of the food whose interruption it had previously signaled, but when given a choice between performing two instrumental responses, the IS shifted rats’ choice away from the response that had previously yielded the food whose interruption had been signaled by IS (Experiment 3). Thus, the effects of an IS on appetitive responses were opposite to its effects on consummatory responding. Implications for our understanding of learned incentive motivation and the control of overeating are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-382
Number of pages18
JournalLearning and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Conditioned reinforcement
  • Cue-potentiated feeding
  • Incentive learning
  • Pavlovian-instrumental transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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