A stimulus that triggers retrieval

'Cue' originated in the medieval theatre, and is the spelled name of the letter q, the abbreviation of quando, Latin for 'when'. For a while it was also spelled qu or cu. It meant a signal that prompts another event in the performance, such as the entrance of an actor (Harrison 1998). Cues fulfil fundamental roles in all the paradigms and assays of learning and memory. Definition 1 is the generic one. It refers to both learned and innate ("a priori) cues. Definitions 2-4 are also presented because they express particular uses of'cue' in the learning literature. Definition 2 specifically refers to cues as discriminators, a particularly useful notion in "instrumental learning situations, and also in ethology (Tinbergen 1969). Definition 3 marks cues as the timing signal, again, particularly useful in instrumental tasks (for an example of'cues' per definitions 2 and 3, see Figure 23). Finally, definition 4 refers to cues as triggers of retrieval. The role of cues in retrieval is more critical than usually meets the inexperienced eye: an influential hypothesis that binds "acquisition, "context, retrieval, and "forgetting, termed 'the encoding specificity principle', proposes that memory is retrieved better when tested in the presence of the same cues that were present in acquisition (Tulving 1983).

Cues could be external or internal. External cues are not only those provided by the experimenter, but also those that the experimenter erroneously ignores. The latter are cues in the seemingly "controlled stimulus and context, including the behaviour of the experimenter ("bias, "Clever Hans). Internal cues are endogenous states of the organism, including circadian rhythms, which, again, are too often neglected in behavioural experiments.

An important thing to remember about cues is that they are seldom invariant over an experiment or across "subjects, even if the particular stimulus is kept constant. The behavioural significance of stimuli, hence their 'cueness', is altered by the experience of the subject with the same or other cues, which is as a matter of fact a trivial statement because this is simply learning, but also by the physiological and external context, including the presence of other cues, which is much less trivial. Multiple processes of cue revaluation are illustrated in "classical conditioning. A special case is when that portion of the stimulus that serves as a cue for a distinctive behaviour shrinks with training; this is called 'cue reduction'. Another important subset of processes is called 'cue competition' (Wasserman and Miller 1997). This refers to inhibition of the behavioural

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(b) Initial Target Memory Go Saccadic fixation cue cue movement

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