Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Not applicable

Advisor Role

Not applicable


Three students systematically investigated the hypothesis of Rosic, Frontali and Bignami (1969) that certain stimuli facilitate higher levels of avoidance performance (i.e., more correct responses) because of their ability to generate greater amounts of unconditioned motor activity during the stimulus presentation. Experiment I showed that buzzer, tone and light stimuli produce different amounts of unconditioned motor activity in rats, with the buzzer generating the most activity and the light generating the least. In Experiment II, the introduction of non-contingent shock resulted in a reduction in motor activity levels, but the buzzer still produced higher levels of activity than the light. Experiment III directly tested the effects of different motor activity levels in a two-way active shuttle avoidance situation. No significant relationship was shown between the unconditioned motor activity levels associated with warning stimuli and the corresponding avoidance performance. Surprisingly, all warning stimuli produced high levels of avoidance performance. It was suggested that stimulus modality effects still warrant further examination as a possible source of variance in avoidance experiments.

Convocation Year