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Motivational control after extended instrumental training

Abstract

Hungry rats were trained to press a lever for food pellets prior to an assessment of the effect of a shift in their motivational state on instrumental performance in extinction. The first study replicated the finding that a reduction in the level of food deprivation has no detectable effect on extinction performance unless the animals receive prior experience with the food pellets in the nondeprived state (Balleine, 1992; Balleine & Dickinson, 1994). When tested in the nondeprived state, only animals that were reexposed to the food pellets in this state between training and testing showed a reduction in the level of pressing during the extinction test relative to animals tested in the deprived state. The magnitude of this reexposure effect depended, however, on the amount of instrumental training. Following more extended instrumental training, extinction performance was unaffected by reexposure to the food pellets in the nondeprived state whether or not the animals were food deprived at the time of testing. A second study demonstrated that the resistance to the reexposure treatment engendered by overtraining was due to the animals’ increased experience of the food pellets in the deprived state during training rather than to the more extensive exposure to the instrumental contingency. In contrast to the results of the first two experiments, however, a reliable reexposure effect was detected after overtraining in a final study, in which the animals were given greater reexposure to the food pellets in the nondeprived state.

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This research was supported by a grant from the SERC to A.D., and a Research Fellowship from Jesus College, Cambridge

—Accepted by previous editor, Vincent M. LoLordo

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Dickinson, A., Balleine, B., Watt, A. et al. Motivational control after extended instrumental training. Animal Learning & Behavior 23, 197–206 (1995). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03199935

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03199935

Keywords

  • Food Pellet
  • Motivational State
  • Operant Chamber
  • Incentive Learning
  • Extinction Test