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Operant Conditioning of Autonomic Responses: One Perspective on the Curare Experiments

  • Larry E. Roberts

Abstract

Occasional reports of successful operant conditioning of autonomic responses in curarized rats have continued to appear in recent years (Cabanac and Serres, 1976; Gliner, Horvath, and Wolfe, 1975; Middaugh, Eissenberg, and Brener, 1975; Thornton and Van-Toller, 1973a,b). These reports have done little, however, to dispel the doubt that persists concerning the replicability of earlier research in this preparation by Miller and DiCara (Obrist, Black, Brener, and DiCara, 1974). One goal of the present chapter is to review efforts to obtain operant conditioning of autonomic responses in the curarized rat and to consider the interpretation of the original studies that seems to be necessitated by repeated failures to obtain learning. A further goal is to discuss the implications of these developments for the study of operant autonomic conditioning and self-regulation. The focus of the chapter is on the operant conditioning of autonomic responses rather than of electromyographic activity or central nervous system responding. Major emphasis is given to heart rate, since most of the attempted replications of operant conditioning in curarized rats have dealt with this response.

Keywords

Operant Conditioning Autonomic Response Peak Inspiratory Pressure Shaping Procedure Present Chapter 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Larry E. Roberts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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