, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 308-312

Effects of food primes on the operant behavior of nondeprived rats


After rats had been trained to press a lever for food reward, experimenter-initiated food “primes” increased the likelihood of subsequent responding during periods in which the subjects were nondeprived. No such priming effects were found after presentation of a stimulus that had previously been paired with food. In other experiments, nonreinforced leverpresses, as well as subthreshold components of the leverpress response (e.g., forepaw raising), were also found to be enhanced by food primes. Taken together with other reports in the literature, the present findings are consistent with a “motivational aftereffects” interpretation of priming, and also with the notion that all stimuli which possess reinforcing properties possess priming properties as well.