Brief Communication | Published:

Experimental psychology

Event timing turns punishment to reward

Nature volume 430, page 983 (26 August 2004) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Can relief from pain be a pleasure? If so, noxious events should — despite their typically aversive effects — also have a ‘rewarding’ after-effect1,2,3. Through training fruitflies by using an electric shock paired with an odour, we show here that the shock can condition either avoidance of this odour or approach to it. These opposing behaviours depend on the relative timing of the shock and odour presentations during training, and indicate that a shock can act as either an aversive reinforcer or an appetitive one.

Linking a smell with an electric shock does not always have an aversive effect in flies.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Lehrstuhl für Genetik und Neurobiologie, Biozentrum, Universität Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany

    • Hiromu Tanimoto
    • , Martin Heisenberg
    •  & Bertram Gerber

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hiromu Tanimoto.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/430983a

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