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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Temporal Organization of Eating in Low- and High- Saccharin-Consuming Rats


When, where, and how much animals eat are influenced by food scarcity and risk of predation. The present study concerned the mediation of risk-related feeding patterns by emotion. Occidental Lowsaccharin- consuming (LoS) and High-saccharin-consuming (HiS) rats, which differ in both ingestion and emotionality, were studied in three steady-state paradigms: an “open economy” procedure (discrete session cyclic-ratio operant schedule) and two “closed economy” procedures (meal patterning, free feeding with running wheel access). Cyclic-ratio performance showed better defense of stable food intake against variable cost among LoS rats. In closed economies, LoS rats consumed a larger number of smaller meals and showed a more pronounced circadian rhythm in meal initiation and running than HiS rats. Taste finickiness appears to serve as a marker for heightened cross-modal risk reactivity, the expressions of which include tighter behavioral regulation of eating in conditions of scarcity and exaggerated nocturnality.

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