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J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2009 Jul;35(3):434-9. doi: 10.1037/a0014021.

Averaging of temporal memories by rats.

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Department of Psychology, Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085, USA.


Rats were trained on a mixed fixed-interval schedule in which stimulus A (tone or light) indicated food availability after 10 s and stimulus B (the other stimulus) indicated food availability after 20 s. Testing consisted of nonreinforced probe trials in which the stimulus was A, B, or the compound AB. On single-stimulus trials, rats responded with a peak of activity around the programmed reinforced time. On compound-stimulus trials, rats showed a single scalar peak of responding at a time midway between those for stimulus A and B. These results suggest that when provided with discrepant information regarding the temporal predictability of reinforcement, rats compute an average of the scheduled reinforcement times for the A and B stimuli and use this average to generate an expectation of reward for the compound stimuli.

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