Characterization of the Strategy Used by Rats in an Interval Time–Place Learning Task

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Rats were tested on the interval time–place task. During test sessions, 4 levers provided food in succession. Each lever provided food pellets on a variable ratio schedule for an equal period of time, which ranged from 4 to 8 min across 3 groups of rats. Experienced rats restricted the majority of their responses on each lever to the reinforced period of sessions and anticipated the 3 changes in the location of food availability during each session. Analyses based on Weber's law suggested that the rats restarted timing as they moved from 1 lever to the next. The advantages of this strategy, and its functional similarity to animals' use of landmarks during dead reckoning navigation, are explored.

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