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Concurrent schedules of wheel-running reinforcement: Choice between different durations of opportunity to run in rats

Authors
  • Belke, Terry W.1
  • 1 Mount Allison University, Department of Psychology, Sackville, NB, E4L 1C7, Canada , Sackville (Canada)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Learning & Behavior
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2006
Volume
34
Issue
1
Pages
61–70
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/BF03192872
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

How do animals choose between opportunities to run of different durations? Are longer durations preferred over shorter durations because they permit a greater number of revolutions? Are shorter durations preferred because they engender higher rates of running? Will longer durations be chosen because running is less constrained? The present study reports on three experiments that attempted to address these questions. In the first experiment, five male Wistar rats chose between 10-sec and 50-sec opportunities to run on modified concurrent variable-interval (VI) schedules. Across conditions, the durations associated with the alternatives were reversed. Response, time, and reinforcer proportions did not vary from indifference. In a second experiment, eight female Long-Evans rats chose between opportunities to run of equal (30 sec) and unequal durations (10 sec and 50 sec) on concurrent variable-ratio (VR) schedules. As in Experiment 1, between presentations of equal duration conditions, 10-sec and 50-sec durations were reversed. Results showed that response, time, and reinforcer proportions on an alternative did not vary with reinforcer duration. In a third experiment, using concurrent VR schedules, durations were systematically varied to decrease the shorter duration toward 0 sec. As the shorter duration decreased, response, time, and reinforcer proportions shifted toward the longer duration. In summary, differences in durations of opportunities to run did not affect choice behavior in a manner consistent with the assumption that a longer reinforcer is a larger reinforcer.

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