With my new method, I have robust evidence that it produces latent inhibition. The original goal of that experiment was to show that the eye-tracker can be shown to monitor visual attention in conditioning, validating it with a phenomenon where attention is widely assumed to be operating. In addition, I sought to assess whether visual attention was restored with a context-change. That is, latent inhibition is supposed to be context specific, and if it is an attention phenomenon, attention should be restored.
The problem I encountered was that the latent inhibition was not context specific. This lack of effect was a problem because I have good evidence that the contexts are discriminated.
So, I ran another experiment to ensure that my latent inhibition procedure did not make the stimulus a conditioned inhibitor- and it did not.
At that point, I assumed that some of the visual aspects of the game (e.g., the sensor panel) were becoming associated with the sensors, which according to Wagner (e.g., 1981) as well as McLaren & Mackintosh (2000) would make my latent inhibition context independent. So, I removed the sensor panel, allowing the sensors to appear only on the background, and ran the experiment again. The result replicated- latent inhibition was not context specific. If anything, across the two experiments latent inhibition appears especially present in the different context.
The evidence I have that the contexts are discriminated comes from an experiment on “renewal.” There, I show that the conditioning is slightly affected by a change in context. Extinction is faster in a different context. And I show that extinction is highly context specific. When the extinguished CS is tested outside the context where extinction took place, robust responding is observed.
So- why is my latent inhibition context independent (in other studies I have shown it to be context specific in humans)?
I noticed the obvious at this point, because I could see nothing else.
The experiments on renewal were conducted without the eye tracker.
The experiments on latent inhibition were conducted with the eye tracker.
Could the eye-tracker be the culprit? Could it place some demand characteristic on the participant such that context-switch effects disappear in my methods?
I am now concurrently running the latent inhibition experiment, again, but without the eye tracker and the renewal experiments, again, with the eye tracker.
When I get those data, I’ll be getting all these experiments ready for a formal paper submission and putting them up here.