The role of awareness and its impact on learning the conditioned eyeblink response was investigated in both trace and delay discrimination eyeblink conditioning in young and aging participants, in 4 paradigms: delay 750, delay 1250, trace 500, and trace 1000. Participants concurrently watched a silent movie about which they were questioned afterward. Acquisition in both the trace and delay discrimination task was correlated with awareness of conditioning stimulus contingencies, regardless of age. Age-dependent deficits were observed in trace discrimination but not in delay discrimination, with more severe deficits appearing at the longer trace interval. The percentage of aware participants was also found to be greater in the young population than in the aging population. These results indicate that awareness or knowledge of stimulus contingencies may be an important contributor to successful acquisition in higher order discrimination tasks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience