Temporal Distributions of Schedule-Induced Licks, Magazine Entries, and Lever Presses on Fixed- and Variable-Time Schedules

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In this article, schedule-induced drinking (SID) refers to increased drinking by hungry rats exposed to intermittent delivery of food pellets. Two major accounts of SID differ in their explanation of why such drinking tends be concentrated soon after pellet delivery. Temporal discrimination theories propose that drinking is a form of displacement activity that occurs when a pellet is least likely. Adventitious reinforcement theories propose that drinking is displaced to early in an interpellet interval (IPI) by magazine-directed behavior that occurs toward the end of an IPI. The main aim of this study was to examine the latter response-competition account by recording distributions of both licking and magazine entries as SID developed when pellets were delivered to different groups either on a fixed-time (FT 30 s) or on a variable-time schedule (VT 30 s), as in Experiment 1. Although VT 30-s schedules produced essentially flat distributions of magazine entries, licking still tended to be concentrated early in an IPI. Furthermore, there was no indication (Experiments 1 and 2) that magazine entry distributions developed ahead of licking distributions. Experiment 3 examined distributions of lever presses instead of licks: Initially high rates of lever pressing declined both with response-independent schedules (FT and VT) and when a minimal response-dependency was introduced (recycling conjunctive schedule), yet this response also tended to be most frequent soon after pellet delivery. Overall, the data were generally consistent with temporal conditioning theories.

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