I would like to know if classical conditioning somehow predicts/approaches scenarios where multiple or multimodal stimuli associate with a response. I do not have much knowledge on the topic, but it appears that in typical examples, like the salivating dogs, there is always a pair of one single stimuli to one single response.

One good example of multiple stimuli would be, for instance, an association of a whole ritual with several stimuli to a response. For instance, I taught my two cats since very young (both rescued and nursed by me) a sort of "food ritual" where I would say some sentences with a very specific prosody (known to be distinguishable by their species) and then go to the place they eat. They would follow me around the house until I arrive the place, so I would put the food, positioning them in a way they would both be comfortable and would caress them in the top of their heads and their necks while they eat and purr.

While I did this ritual very strictly for almost a year, with the time the ritual got simplified, for instance, most of the time they request the food to me when the time is approaching, I say the prosody words, without the original walking around the house, they just go straight away to the eating place. However, several times they don't show much motivation to eat until I position and start caressing them, and they even look at if I walk away without doing it, as if they were expecting me to do that and make them purr before eating.

My question is a general one and this example is just one possible situation. I wonder if, under a classical conditioning approach, it could be understood as if all those acts could be multiple stimuli that boost their response of eating, and if that's possible to expect in some other kinds of cases, and not only regarding cats. This response would be a kick-start for checking the plausibility of some ideas about the interpretation of analogous data on some other frameworks, like schema theories.

PS: Just to clarify those who could possibly be concerned about my cats, when I did that I had no intention of "experimenting" with them at all, I was just being an affectionate pet owner who noticed their seemingly happiness and thought it would be a nice thing. This interpretation I asked about just occurred to me recently, years later.

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    $\begingroup$ This phenomenon may be more closely related with behavioural script. Have you looked into whether sequence of events is relevant or in itself stimulatory in classical conditioning? If trained on A then B, does B then A have same strength of response? $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Jan 5, 2022 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ What exactly is your question - it's really wordy and a concluding wrap up would work best. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jan 6, 2022 at 10:33


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