Animal Learning & Behavior

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 436–440

Excitatory and inhibitory effects of free reinforcers

  • Marvin Z. Deluty

DOI: 10.3758/BF03214436

Cite this article as:
Deluty, M.Z. Animal Learning & Behavior (1976) 4: 436. doi:10.3758/BF03214436


Rats’ responding was maintained on a random-interval 1-min food schedule. In addition, non-contingent pellets were delivered, independently of the animals’ behavior, at either fixed intervals (Experiment 1) or at random intervals (Experiment 2). As the rate of delivery of the periodic and aperiodic free reinforcers increased, the rate of responding decreased. But these free reinforcers, in addition to having this inhibitory effect, had also a local excitatory effect upon responding: lever-pressing increased to a level above its mean rate following the delivery of a free food pellet. The time course of this behavioral aftereffect of free reinforcers, for both fixed and random intervals, was dependent upon the proportion of the interval between successive free food deliveries. The relation of these results to those obtained with response-contingent reinforcement, free punishment, and in schedule-induced phenomena is discussed.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marvin Z. Deluty
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrown UniversityProvidence

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