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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Temporal Averaging Across Stimuli Signaling the Same or Different Reinforcing Outcomes in the Peak Procedure

  • Author(s): Delamater, Andrew R;
  • Nicolas, Dorie-Mae
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

The present study examined factors that affect temporal averaging in rats when discriminative stimuli are compounded following separate training indicating the availability of reward after different fixed intervals (FI) on a peak procedure. One group of rats, Group Differential, learned that a flashing light stimulus signaled that one type of food pellet reward could be earned for lever pressing after an FI 5 s interval and that a second type of food pellet reward could be earned after an FI 20 s interval in the presence of a tone stimulus. A second group of rats, Group Non-Differential, was similarly trained except that both types of rewards were scheduled across flash and tone trials. When given non-reinforced flash + tone compound test trials the interval containing the maximal response rate was no different than on flash alone test trials, although some responding also appeared near the long FI time. After these FI contingencies were reversed (flash signaled FI 20 s and tone signaled FI 5 s), however, further compound test trials more clearly revealed a temporal averaging pattern in both groups. The peak interval was shifted to the right of the FI 5 stimulus. Moreover, Group Differential rats acquired the reversed discrimination somewhat more rapidly than Group Non-Differential rats, and in a final selective satiation test Group Differential rats responded less in later intervals after they had been sated on the FI 20 s reward. These data suggest that temporal averaging in stimulus compound tests occurs even when the stimuli being combined signal qualitatively different rewards, but that decreasing the value of one of those rewards can shift responding away from the relevant time interval in a selective satiation test. However, when an especially salient stimulus (e.g., flashing light) signals a short FI, rats tend to process the compound stimulus more in terms of its individual elements.

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