Swimming in Flavored Water Leads to Avoidance of that Flavor in Laboratory Rats (Rattus Norvegicus)
This article consists of two experiments reporting conditioned flavor avoidance (or taste aversion) in laboratory rats that swam in the flavored water. A statistically reliable effect was demonstrated in Experiment 1 by using a simple conditioning procedure with sweet (sodium saccharin) water. Compared with control rats that had no swimming experience or those that swam in tap water, experimental rats showed avoidance of the sweet water in the choice test between it and tap water, if they had swum in the sweet water for 20 min over four days. Rinsing the rats off with tap water after the swimming had no effect on this flavor avoidance learning. This finding suggests that tasting the sweet water during swimming was critical. Experiment 2 confirmed the flavor avoidance learning in swimming rats by a differential conditioning procedure with sour (citric acid) and bitter (denatonium benzoate) solutions. Although the effect size was relatively small in the two experiments reported here, this new procedure may contribute to future research concerning Pavlovian conditioning due to its procedural simplicity.