aversive learning

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A rapid form of conditioning to the sight, smell, or taste of (usually novel) foods, which occurs as a result of sickness. If an animal consumes a substance with a distinctive smell or flavour, and is later subjected to toxic after-effects produced by such independent means as X-irradiation or injection of poison, it will avoid consuming the distinctive substance in the future. The animal behaves as if it thinks that consumption of the substance made it sick. This specific aversion will not occur if consumption occurs without being followed by toxicosis, or if toxicosis occurs in the absence of previous consumption. It differs from the types of learning usually investigated in that it can occur after a single pairing, even when the interval between ingestion and toxicosis is a number of hours.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.

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