Psychology Learning Resources
Ivan Pavlov and Pavlovian Conditioning

Concept Definition: Long Delay Conditioning

Important characteristics of Long Delay Conditioning:

  • CS onset precedes US onset by at least several seconds and CS continues until US onset.
  • CR occurs shortly after CS onset, but with continued training CR moves closer in time to US onset.
  • As CS duration increases, conditioning declines systematically (although not as pronounced as increasing the intervening CS-US interval in Trace Conditioning).
graph showing that CS onset precedes US onset by at least several seconds and CS continues until US onset

Consider the unconditioned reflex whereby food elicits (US) elicits salivation (UR). In Long Delay Conditioning, a tone (NS) might sound for several seconds before the food (US) is presented. Consequently, the tone (CS) may come to elicit salivation (CR) even in the absence of food. With repeated conditioning trials, salivation may become increasingly delayed to when tone first sounds, occurring progressively closer in the time to food delivery. In addition, the eliciting effect of the tone may be less pronounced the longer its typical duration prior to food delivery.