Control of Operant Response Force

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Differences in motor-control strategies (feedback or feedforward) engaged by rats to produce operant response force were investigated under 2 conditions of external feedback. In the immediate condition, liquid sucrose reinforcers were delivered as soon as each forelimb response met the force requirement, whereas under the terminal condition, reinforcers were delivered at response termination. When feedback control of response force was precluded by delivering reinforcers at response termination, force was adjusted by modulation of the rate of rise of force. However, under immediate reinforcer delivery, response force was controlled by adjustments of time to peak force. Such adjustments of response time to meet response requirements of increasing difficulty are consonant with expressions of the speed–accuracy tradeoff commonly observed in studies of human motor control.

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