In Phase 1, four groups of rats received either large or small food reward in a black or white straight alley. In Phase 2 all rats received small food reward in the white alley. Rats that had received large reward in Phase 1 ran more slowly in Phase 2 to small reward than did rats that received small reward in both phases (successive negative contrast effect, or NCE). There was a temporary decrement in running speed for both groups that experienced a change in alley color, but the size of the NCE was not reduced by the change in alley color. It was suggested that the NCE can be used to measure the strength of connection between a particular cue and reward expectancies in instrumental learning situations. Within this context, the present results suggest that, under the conditions employed in this experiment, alley color was not strongly associated with reward expectancies.
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