3 years ago

Duration of wheel-running reinforcement: Effects on reinforcement value and motivation in free-feeding and food-deprived rats

Ten (pair housed) female Long-Evans rats were exposed to 5s, 30s, and 90s wheel-running reinforcement durations on a response-initiated variable interval 20s schedule as food deprivation was manipulated. On free feeding, never-deprived rats showed low wheel running and lever-pressing rates with long postreinforcement pauses (PRPs) for the 5-s reinforcement duration. Subsequently, when food deprived (Deprived 1), rats showed no effect of reinforcement duration on all measures. Under a second deprived condition (Deprived 2) with the rats maintained in single cages, there was no effect of housing (single vs. paired). When data from both deprivation assessments (Deprived 1 and Deprived 2) were combined, rats showed lower wheel running and overall lever-pressing rates with longer pauses on the 90-s duration compared to 30s and 5s bouts of wheel activity. The pattern of results challenges a reinforcement value interpretation, but is consistent with shifts in the motivational basis of wheel running. On free feeding, never-deprived rats were intrinsically motivated to run on wheels and operant lever-pressing was maintained at moderate rates by the automatic reinforcement of wheel running, except at the short reinforcement duration (5s). When food deprived, motivation became food-related and rats showed high rates of lever pressing even at the shortest duration. The weak effects under initial deprivation (Deprived 1) raise questions about equivalence between wheel-running reinforcement duration and reinforcement magnitude using food reinforcement.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0023969017301212

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