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Behav Processes. 2005 Feb 28;68(2):165-72.

The reinforcing property and the rewarding aftereffect of wheel running in rats: a combination of two paradigms.

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  • 1Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB, Canada E4L 1C7.


Wheel running reinforces the behavior that generates it and produces a preference for the context that follows it. The goal of the present study was to demonstrate both of these effects in the same animals. Twelve male Wistar rats were first exposed to a fixed-interval 30 s schedule of wheel-running reinforcement. The operant was lever-pressing and the reinforcer was the opportunity to run for 45 s. Following this phase, the method of place conditioning was used to test for a rewarding aftereffect following operant sessions. On alternating days, half the rats responded for wheel-running reinforcement while the other half remained in their home cage. Upon completion of the wheel-running reinforcement sessions, rats that ran and rats that remained in their home cages were placed into a chamber of a conditioned place preference (CPP) apparatus for 30 min. Each animal received six pairings of a distinctive context with wheel running and six pairings of a different context with their home cage. On the test day, animals were free to move between the chambers for 10 min. Results showed a conditioned place preference for the context associated with wheel running; however, time spent in the context associated with running was not related to wheel-running rate, lever-pressing rate, or post-reinforcement pause duration.

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