Comparison of two techniques for the assessment of conditioned reinforcement in the runway
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The major purpose of this study was to compare the two standard techniques for the assessment of conditioned reinforcement as developed by several schedules of primary reinforcement. These two techniques were the resistance to extinction and the new response procedures. Five experimental groups of fourteen animals each were trained in a straight alleyway under different schedules of primary reinforcement. Group I was trained under a continuous schedule of sR; Group II received an intermittent schedule of sR. Groups III training conditions were identical to those prevailing in Group II save that different goal boxes were used for reinforced and nonreinforced trials. Group IV, run under a discriminative schedule of sR as was Group III, received an increased number of nonreinforced trials in an effort to test the effectiveness of this variable in a discrimination task. Finally Group V, again using a discriminative schedule of SR, was used to test the effect of increasing the number of training days on the development of sR. Animals in the discrimination groups were run to goal boxes of discriminably different brightness for reinforced and nonreinforced trials. All animals in each group received 10 reinforced trials per day for 6 days save for Group V which received training for 12 days. Groups II, III and V received 10 nonreinforced trials per day while Group IV received 20 nonreinforced trials per day. Four animals in each of the assessment subgroups were run with white positive, and three were run with black positive. At the conclusion of training, each of the experimental groups was split in half. One half was tested under the resistance to extinction procedure receiving, save for Group II, the same number of trials as during training. Group II received 10 trials per day. Animals were tested for a three to four day period and latencies were recorded for the previously reinforced trials; ten latency scores were obtained per day from each animal. For the resistance to extinction animals, conditions were exactly the same as during training save for the omission of sR. The resistance to extinction as measured by the course of the latency increase over the days of testing provides an index of the relative effectiveness of the S^r developed by the different training procedures. The other half of each of the five training groups was tested under the new response procedure; the straight alleyway was converted into a T maze by the addition of a choice point chamber with the previously reinforced goal box placed against each animal's previously determined position preference. Each animal received 20 trials on the first day of testing. The number of entries into each arm of the T maze was recorded for all animals. In this case the number of entries into the previously reinforced goal box provides an index of the effectiveness of the S^r generated by the training procedures. On the last day of acquisition, latency measures taken from the opening of the starling box door to the closing of the goal box door indicated the following ordering of all groups. Group I had the lowest latency scores followed by Groups V, IV, III, and finally II; it will be recalled that Group II was trained under an intermittent schedule. All groups were significantly different save for Groups III and IV and Groups IV and V. During the testing period, the latency measures for the resistance to extinction animals indicated the following data. Groups IV and V had the lowest latency values, as taken over the first three days of testing, and next in order was Group III followed by Groups II and I. All were significantly different save for Groups III, IV, and V. In this context, the lower the latency score, the more effective the S^r developed under the particular training conditions of that group. The training conditions produced different rates of extinction as indicated by the results of a trend analysis over the first three days of testing for the resistance to extinction animals. Group I extinguished more rapidly than any of the other groups; the latency scores increased more gradually for Groups II, III, IV and V. A rank order correlation between the ordering across groups on the last day of training for those animals to be run under the resistance to extinction procedure and the ordering produced after three days of testing failed to reach significance. It was concluded that the training terminal rates had no relation to the resistance to extinction subsequently exhibited by the various groups. During the testing period for the new response animals, two response measures were taken. The first measure involved the number of entries into the training box; the second measure involved the percent number of entries into the training box or previously reinforced box following the first entry. Since the results of these two measures are roughly comparable, the second measure will be used in discussing these data. Groups IV and V again had the highest percent of entries followed by Groups III , II, and I; there was not a significant difference between Groups II, III, IV, and V. It was concluded that this might be accounted for by the fact that these groups were operating close to the maximum obtainable score of 20 entries. [TRUNCATED]
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