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Behav Processes. 2013 Sep;98:18-24. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2013.04.011. Epub 2013 Apr 25.

Sensitivity to delay is affected by magnitude of reinforcement in rats.

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Facultad de Psicología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México D.F. 04510, Mexico.


Previous research has provided discrepant results about how reinforcement delay and magnitude are combined to determine the value of the alternatives in concurrent-chains schedules. In the present experiment, we analyzed a possible interaction between these characteristics of reinforcement, employing a two component concurrent-chains schedule, with rats as experimental subjects. Non-independent VI schedules were presented in the initial links of each component. In the terminal links, the following pairs of delays to reinforcement were presented in 4 conditions: 2-28, 6-24, 24-6, 28-2s (fixed time schedules for a group, fixed interval schedules for the other). Magnitude of reinforcement was maintained constant within components: one pellet for one component, and four pellets for the other. The results indicated that in both groups, the sensitivity to delay - calculated according to the generalized matching law - was higher in the component with the larger reinforcer. This result is in contrast with those reported in the literature of temporal discounting with human participants.


Concurrent chains; Generalized matching law; Magnitude of reinforcement; Rats; Sensitivity to delay; Temporal discounting

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