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The effect of reinforcement differences on choice and response distribution during stimulus compounding1

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In Experiments I and II, rats were trained to respond on one lever during light and another during tone. The absence of tone and light controlled response cessation. In the multiple schedule of Experiment I, all reinforcements were received for responding in tone or light; in the chain schedule of Experiment II, all reinforcements were received in no tone + no light for not responding. Experiment I subjects, for which tone and light were associated with response and reinforcement increase, responded significantly more to tone-plus-light than to tone or light alone (additive summation). Experiment II subjects, for which tone and light were associated with response increase and reinforcement decrease, responded comparably to tone, light, and tone + light. Thus, additive summation was observed when stimulus-response and stimulus-reinforcer associations in tone and light were both positive, but not when they were conflicting. All subjects in both experiments responded predominantly on the light-correlated lever during tone + light, even when light intensity was reduced in testing. Furthermore, when a light was presented to a subject engaged in tone-associated responding, all subjects immediately switched the locus of responding to the light-correlated lever. No change in locus occurred when a tone was presented to a subject engaged in light-associated responding, irrespective of the stimulus-reinforcer association conditioned to tone. The light-lever preference in tone + light indicates that the heightened responding observed in Experiment I was not the summation of tone-associated behavior with light-associated behavior. Rather, it appears to be the result of a facilitation of one operant (light-associated responding) by the reinforcement-associated cue for the other.

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