Two experiments evaluated whether the experience of extinction facilitates subsequent acquisition of patterning discriminations in human predictive learning. Both experiments compared acquisition of negative and positive patterning discrimination between a group of participants that had experienced extinction with a nontarget cue, and a group of participants that had not. Experiment 1 found that acquisition of positive (Experiment 1a) and negative (Experiment 1b) patterning discriminations with the target cues, when they were independently trained, took place at the same rate regardless of the extinction experience with the nontarget cue. Experiment 2 found that, when positive and negative patterning discriminations were concurrently trained, experiencing extinction facilitated the acquisition of positive, but not negative patterning. Results suggest the existence of some boundaries for the idea that experiencing uncertainty facilitates subsequent learning because of the activation of the exploratory mechanism of attention as proposed by recent attentional associative learning theories.

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