Stimulus devaluation and extinction of chain schedule performance

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Pigeons were trained on a two-component multiple schedule in which each separate component consisted of a three-link chain schedule. After initial baseline training, the stimuli correlated with the terminal links of each chain were presented in a successive discrimination, with one stimulus continuing to be associated with reinforcement while responses to the alternative stimulus were extinguished. Subjects were then returned to the original chain schedule, but with extinction in effect in both components of the multiple schedule. In two separate experiments, extinction of initial-link responding was not affected by which terminal link had been extinguished during the separate discrimination training, indicating that devaluation of the terminal link was not transmitted directly to the initial link of the chain. There was also no effect of the devaluation procedure during the first session of testing on responding in the middle link of the chain, but an effect did develop with continued extinction of the entire chain when the terminal components were presented during extinction. When the terminal components were omitted, however, the latter effect did not occur. Also, when the terminal link was omitted, extinction occurred more rapidly in the middle component than in the initial component, indicating a backward pattern of extinction. This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.