Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

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Baseline response rates affect resistance to change

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 22:56

The effect of response rates on resistance to change, measured as resistance to extinction, was examined in two experiments. In Experiment 1, responding in transition from a variable-ratio schedule and its yoked-interval counterpart to extinction was compared with pigeons. Following training on a multiple variable-ratio yoked-interval schedule of reinforcement, in which response rates were higher in the former component, reinforcement was removed from both components during a single extended extinction session. Resistance to extinction in the yoked-interval component was always either greater or equal to that in the variable-ratio component. In Experiment 2, resistance to extinction was compared for two groups of rats that exhibited either high or low response rates when maintained on identical variable-interval schedules. Resistance to extinction was greater for the lower-response-rate group. These results suggest that baseline response rate can contribute to resistance to change. Such effects, however, can only be revealed when baseline response rate and reinforcement rate are disentangled (Experiments 1 and 2) from the more usual circumstance where the two covary. Furthermore, they are more cleanly revealed when the programmed contingencies controlling high and low response rates are identical, as in Experiment 2.

Categories: Academic Journals

A combination of Raspberry Pi and SoftEther VPN for controlling research devices via the Internet

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 03:10

Remote control over devices for experiments may increase the efficiency of operant research and expand the area where behavior can be studied. This article introduces a combination of Raspberry Pi® (Pi) and SoftEther VPN® that allows for such remote control via the Internet. The Pi is a small Linux computer with a great degree of flexibility for customization. Test results indicate that a Pi-based interface meets the requirement for conducting operant research. SoftEther VPN® allows for establishing an extensive private network on the Internet using a single private Wi-Fi router. Step-by-step instructions are provided in the present article for setting up the Pi along with SoftEther VPN®. Their potential for improving the way of conducting research is discussed.

Categories: Academic Journals

The role of temporal intervals on reinforcer accumulation

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 03:26

Animals accumulate reinforcers when they forgo the opportunity to consume available food in favor of acquiring additional food for later consumption. Laboratory research has shown that reinforcer accumulation is facilitated when an interval (either spatial or temporal) separates earning from consuming reinforcers. However, there has been no systematic investigation on the interval separating consuming reinforcers from earning additional reinforcers. This oversight is problematic because this second interval is an integral part of much of the previous research on reinforcer accumulation. The purpose of the current study was to determine the independent contributions of these two temporal intervals on reinforcer accumulation in rats. Each left lever press earned a single food pellet; delivery of the accumulated pellet(s) occurred upon a right lever press. Conditions varied based on the presence of either an intertrial interval (ITI) that separated pellet delivery from the further opportunity to accumulate more pellets, or a delay-to-reinforcement that separated the right lever press from the delivery of the accumulated pellet(s). Delay and ITI values of 0, 5, 10 and 20 s were investigated. The delay-to-reinforcement conditions produced greater accumulation relative to the ITI conditions, despite accumulation increasing the density of reinforcement more substantially in the ITI conditions. This finding suggests that the temporal separation between reinforcer accumulation and subsequent delivery and consumption was a more critical variable in controlling reinforcer accumulation.

Categories: Academic Journals

The transfer of Crel contextual control (same, opposite, less than, more than) through equivalence relations

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 04:20

According to Relational Frame Theory (RFT) Crel denotes a contextual stimulus that controls a particular type of relational response (sameness, opposition, comparative, temporal, hierarchical etc.) in a given situation. Previous studies suggest that contextual functions may be indirectly acquired via transfer of function. The present study investigated the transfer of Crel contextual control through equivalence relations. Experiment 1 evaluated the transfer of Crel contextual functions for relational responses based on sameness and opposition. Experiment 2 extended these findings by evaluating transfer of function using comparative Crel stimuli. Both experiments followed a similar sequence of phases. First, abstract forms were established as Crel stimuli via multiple exemplar training (Phase 1). The contextual cues were then applied to establish arbitrary relations among nonsense words and to test derived relations (Phase 2). After that, equivalence relations involving the original Crel stimuli and other abstract forms were trained and tested (Phase 3). Transfer of function was evaluated by replacing the directly established Crel stimuli with their equivalent stimuli in the former experimental tasks (Phases 1 and 2). Results from both experiments suggest that Crel contextual control may be extended via equivalence relations, allowing other arbitrarily related stimuli to indirectly acquire Crel functions and regulate behavior by evoking appropriate relational responses in the presence of both previously known and novel stimuli.

Categories: Academic Journals

Symmetry and stimulus class formation in humans: Control by temporal location in a successive matching task

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 00:05

Symmetry refers to the observation that subjects will derive B-A (e.g., in the presence of B, select A) after being trained on A-B (e.g., in the presence of A, select B). Whereas symmetry is readily shown in humans, it has been difficult to demonstrate in nonhuman animals. This difficulty, at least in pigeons, may result from responding to specific stimulus properties that change when sample and comparison stimuli switch roles between training and testing. In three experiments with humans, we investigated to what extent human responding is influenced by the temporal location of stimuli using a successive matching-to-sample procedure. Our results indicate that temporal location does not spontaneously control responding in humans, although it does in pigeons. Therefore, the number of functional stimuli that humans respond to in this procedure may be half of the number of functional stimuli that the pigeons respond to. In a fourth experiment, we tested this assumption by doubling the number of functional stimuli controlling responding in human participants in an attempt to make the test more comparable to symmetry tests with pigeons. Here, we found that humans responded according to indirect class formation in the same manner as pigeons do. In sum, our results indicate that functional symmetry is readily observed in humans, even in cases where the temporal features of the stimuli prevent functional symmetry in pigeons. We argue that this difference in behavior between the two species does not necessarily reflect a difference in capacity to show functional symmetry between both species, but could also reflect a difference in the functional stimuli each species responds to.

Categories: Academic Journals