Learning About Deprivation Intensity Stimuli

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Rats demonstrated that they can use deprivation-produced stimuli as discriminative signals for shock in three experiments that used observation of freezing behavior as the index of learning. In Experiment 1, one group was shocked under 24-hr, but not under 0-hr food deprivation. Another group received the reversed discrimination. Both groups froze more under their shocked than under their nonshocked deprivation level. Furthermore, freezing was greatest under a given deprivation level for the group shocked under that level. Behavior was shown to be a function of this learning during subsequent testing under other deprivation levels. In Experiment 2, rats discriminated between deprivation intensities approximating those encountered under free-feeding conditions, and behavior under other deprivation levels also depended on this learning. Experiment 3, using 6- and 23-hr food deprivation, showed that discriminative responding occurred in the absence of cues arising from the recent memory of food in the home cage. Generalization of discriminative control to cues produced by intubation of a high calorie load and to injection of insulin (Experiment 3A) provided evidence that animals learned about the interoceptive stimulus consequences of their deprivation states. The results encourage the view that learning about internal stimulus aspects of food deprivation plays a role in appetitive behavior.

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