Suckling infant rats learn a preference for a novel olfactory stimulus paired with milk delivery

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Science  30 Jan 1981:
Vol. 211, Issue 4481, pp. 506-508
DOI: 10.1126/science.7192882


When presented a novel olfactory stimulus while suckling a passive dam, 11- to 14-day-old rat pups acquire a conditioned preference for that stimulus. The magnitude of the conditioned preference is greater if the pups received milk while suckling than if they did not. The results indicate that infants are capable of learning while suckling and that milk delivery plays a role in this associative process.