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Behav Processes. 2012 Jul;90(3):291-301. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 Mar 10.

Contingency discriminability and the generalized matching law describe choice on concurrent ratio schedules of wheel-running reinforcement.

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Department of Psychology, Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada. TBELKE@MTA.CA


Belke (2010) showed that on concurrent ratio schedules, the difference in ratio requirements required to produce near exclusive preference for the lower ratio alternative was substantively greater when the reinforcer was wheel running than when it was sucrose. The current study replicated this finding and showed that this choice behavior can be described by the matching law and the contingency discriminability model. Eight female Long Evans rats were exposed to concurrent VR schedules of wheel-running reinforcement (30s) and the schedule value of the initially preferred alternative was systematically increased. Two rats rapidly developed exclusive preference for the lower ratio alternative, but the majority did not - even when ratios differed by 20:1. Analysis showed that estimates of slopes from the matching law and the proportion of reinforcers misattributed from the contingency discriminability model were related to the ratios at which near exclusive preference developed. The fit of these models would be consistent with misattribution of reinforcers or poor discrimination between alternatives due to the long duration of wheel running.

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