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I am trying to understand a paper about ethanol: "Generalisation of ethanol with drug mixtures containing a positive modulator of the GABAA receptor and an NMDA antagonist" (Stolerman & Olufsen, 2000)

In the abstract it says,

"After drug-appropriate responding with the training mixtures reached 85%, generalisation to ethanol was examined in extinction tests."

I can't find a definition for "generalisation" in Google searches. What does it mean? I don't have a background in biology, so simple answers are preferable. Thank you.

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Generalisation

Generalisation is the phenomenon of an organism responding to all situations similar to one in which it has been conditioned.

or

Not biologically differentiated or adapted to a specific function or environment

This means that the the rats responded to ethanol the same way that they responded to the training mixtures.

Sources:

  • Mangan, G. L. The Biology of Human Conduct: East-West Models of Temperament and Personality. Oxford: Pergamon, 1982. Print.
  • "Generalized." - Memidex Dictionary/thesaurus. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.
  • "Generalisation." - Biology-Online Dictionary. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.
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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, but I'm still not sure I understand. If a rat is given substance X, which makes it drunk, and the rat becomes conditioned to seek out that substance, but then it also seeks out ethanol, is that generalization to ethanol? Generalization to substance X? Both? $\endgroup$ – user22316 Mar 4 '16 at 6:30
  • $\begingroup$ @user22316 I'd assume that it responds to all situations as in responding to all situations similar to the one in which it has been conditioned. $\endgroup$ – Ebbinghaus Mar 4 '16 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I might understand it now. A rat responds to ethanol in a particular way; it responds in a similar way to substance X; therefore, it is generalized to ethanol, i.e. it doesn't need ethanol per se, just whatever the effects of ethanol (and substance X) are. Correct? $\endgroup$ – user22316 Mar 4 '16 at 6:52
  • $\begingroup$ @user22316 It means the rats responded to ethanol the same way that they responded to the training mixtures $\endgroup$ – Ebbinghaus Mar 4 '16 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ Got it. Put that in an official answer and I'll give you the check mark. $\endgroup$ – user22316 Mar 4 '16 at 8:02

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