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Effects of forced-choice runway variations on rats’ T-maze serial pattern learning

Authors
  • Szelest, Izabela1
  • Cohen, Jerome1
  • 1 University of Windsor, Department of Psychology, Windsor, ON, N9B 3P4, Canada , Windsor (Canada)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Learning & Behavior
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
May 01, 2006
Volume
34
Issue
2
Pages
202–214
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/BF03193195
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Rats learned an ordered RNR/RNN serial pattern task in a T-maze where they were shifted to a different runway on Trial 3 only in the RNR series (shift-win/stay-lose group) or only in the RNN series (stay-win/shift-lose group). The shift-win/stay-lose group developed faster speeds on Trial 3 of the RNR than on Trial 3 of the RNN series more easily than the stay-win/shift-lose group. This difference occurred whether all rats were forced onto the same runway on the first two trials (Experiment 1) or onto a different runway on Trial 2 from that on Trial 1 in each series (Experiment 2). Posttraining probe tests revealed that the shift-win/stay-lose group in each experiment relied on the runway shift event in Trial 3 or on the series position to anticipate the second reward within a series. Such reward expectancies were greater when the runway shift occurred in the same series position as during training. These probe tests revealed that the stay-win/shift-lose group relied only on the series position in Experiment 2. Our findings do not support predictions based on an associative predictive validity model. Rather, they reflect rats’ predisposition to spontaneously alternate choices in the T-maze, a tendency corresponding to their inherent win-shift foraging strategy. Rats in each group also reduced their speeds less on the nonrewarded Trial 2 when it preceded a rewarded rather than a nonrewarded Trial 3. This effect suggests that rats were able to determine which series contained a second rewarded trial. We discuss the theoretical implications of this Trial 2 speed effect in terms of rats’ uncertainty about where this second rewarded trial might occur in the RNR series.

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