Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Traditionally, behavior analysts and behavioral pharmacologists have emphasized the study of steady-state behavior, while neglecting behavior in transition. In the last 10 years, researchers in these fields have begun to investigate behavioral transitions, particularly the transition from near-zero to above-zero responding involved in response acquisition. This research has focused on variables (e.g., reinforcement delay) that affect acquisition and on procedures (e.g., resetting vs. nonresetting delays) used to assess acquisition. Most studies of acquisition have provided their subjects with behavioral histories prior to testing for acquisition, but few have systematically investigated the importance of historical variables. Consequently, the present study examined the effects of several historical variables on response acquisition with immediate, delayed, and conditioned reinforcement Specifically, 17 groups of 16 waterdeprived rats each received 1 of the 7 following behavioral histories: (a) no exposure to the experimental chamber or to a variable-time (VT) 60-s schedule of water delivety (hereafter termed VT exposure); (b) a single 1-hr (no VT) exposure to the experimental chamber with response levers present; (c) a single 1-hr (no VT) exposure to the experimental chamber with response levers absent; (d) a single 1-hr VT exposure session with response levers present; (e) a single 1-hr VT exposure session with response levers absent; (f) five 1-hr VT exposure sessions with levers present; and (g) five 1-hr VT exposure sessions with levers absent All groups then received a single 6- hr acquisition session in which consequences (4-s access to a water-dipper cup) for lever-press responses occurred immediately or after a 15-s resetting delay. For 14 groups, the dipper cup delivered 0.1 ml tap water, while for the control group and two condicioned-reinforcemcnt groups the dipper delivered no water. Rats that received 5 VT exposure sessions had a higher probability of acquiring the operant response than rats that received other behavioral histories. Further analyses of results are provided and recommendations are made for future research.
Snycerski, Susan M., "Lever-Press Acquisition by Rats: Effects of Some Historical Variables" (2002). Dissertations. 1334.