The temporal structure of reinforcement: VI. Local determinants of response topography as determined by analysis of interresponse times

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Five experiments with adult male Sprague-Dawley rats investigated local determinants of response topography in spontaneously patterned intracranial reinforcement by means of an analysis of interresponse times (IRTs). In the present studies, Ss implanted with electrodes aimed at the medial forebrain bundle were permitted sufficient stimulation access to allow the generation of episodic patterns. IRTs were collected and examined for indications of systematic trends within individual episodes. Analysis within and between Ss yielded 3 major results: (1) Intervals between successive responses within episodes declined for the initial 10–25 responses, at which point they reached a stable asymptote. (2) The degree of this trend varied with the length of time separating successive episodes. At very short times between episodes, little declining trend in initial IRTs was evident. (3) IRTs systematically increased prior to episode termination. Findings suggest that local response topography in spontaneously initiated and organized episodes may reflect the cumulating and subsequently dissipating influence of a priming process. The organizing properties of the priming process suggest that it is a significant motivational influence. (41 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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