Inter-Effector Influences in Operant Autonomic Control
Almost from the very beginning of research on operant reinforcement of autonomically mediated responses, the possibility has been considered that contingencies explicitly introduced in relation to a particular autonomic response might influence other autonomically mediated behaviors. For example, Shapiro, Crider, and Tursky (1964) examined skin potential levels and heart rates in conjunction with the administration of positive reinforcement contingent upon the frequency of skin potential responses. They concluded that their observed operant conditioning effect on skin potential response frequency was independent of changes in the other autonomic measures. Subsequently, Crider, Shapiro, and Tursky (1966) obtained quite similar results in a replication of their first study. In both of these studies, basal skin potential levels and heart rates actually declined during training in both experimental and control groups and skin potential levels tended to be slightly higher and heart rates slightly lower (the latter increasingly so) in the group reinforced for emitting spontaneous skin potential responses than in the control group. But these consistent differences were not statistically significant.
KeywordsConditioned Stimulus Discriminative Stimulus Skin Conductance Skin Conductance Response Autonomic Response
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