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Behav Processes. 2009 Jun;81(2):309-15. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2009.02.013. Epub 2009 Mar 9.

High-rate operant behavior in two mouse strains: a response-bout analysis.

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Auburn University, Thach Hall, Auburn, AL 36830, USA.


Operant behavior sometimes occurs in bouts characterized by an initiation rate, within-bout response rate, and bout length. The generality of this structure was tested using high-rate nose-poking in mice. Reinforcement of short interresponse times produced high response rates while a random-interval schedule held reinforcement rates constant. BALB/c mice produced bouts that were more frequent, longer, and contained a higher within-bout rate of responding (nine nose-pokes/s) than did the C57BL/6 mice (five nose-pokes/s). Adding a running wheel decreased total nose-pokes and bout length, and increased bout-initiation rate. Free-feeding reduced nose-poking by decreasing bout-initiation rate. Photoperiod reversal decreased bout-initiation rate but not total nose-poke rate. Despite strain differences in bout structure, both strains responded similarly to the interventions. The three bout measures were correlated with overall rate but not with each other. Log-survival analyses provided independent descriptors of the structure of high-rate responding in these two strains.

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