Instrumentalization of Movements Evoked by Stimulation of the Motor Cortex by Food Reinforcement in Dogs

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The possibility that hindlimb movements (elevations) evoked by stimulation of the corresponding contralateral area of the motor cortex could be instrumentalized by reinforcement with food was demonstrated, contradicting some previously published data. Operant movements (interstimulus voluntary high elevations of the hindlimb) were acquired as a result of consistent combinations: cortical stimulation – movement – food. Acquisition required more than 50–200 combinations. Delivery of food was accompanied by a click at exactly the moment at which the hindlimb reached the required height. The click became the food-related conditioned signal and served as a secondary operant reinforcement, which facilitated acquisition of the operant movement. These results support the view that the motor cortex can have an immediate role in forming “operant” temporary connections (motivation-movement) and that simple operant movements can be initiated via this arc.

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