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TASTE DISCRIMINATION DURING THE EARLY ONTOGENY OF TASTE DISCRIMINATION DURING THE EARLY ONTOGENY OF THE RAT IN PROCEDURES INVOLVING SURPRISING CHANGES IN REINFORCEMENT

Keywords: Magnitude , devaluation , rats , ontogeny

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Abstract:

This study evaluated consummatory responses in infant rats exposed to different magnitude of reward, and after the devaluation (i.e., consummatory successive negative contrast) or omission (i.e., extinction) of reward. In Experiment 1, 8-10 post-natal days (PND) pups were intraorally infused with 12%, 10%, 5% or 2% sucrose (preshift phase, 2 daily trials). Subsequently, all groups received 2% sucrose (postshift phase). In Experiment 2, 10-14 day-old pups received 12% or 2% sucrose in 4 daily trials in the preshift phase, followed by 2% in a postshift trial. Both experiments indicated that during preshift, animals exposed to 12% sucrose exhibited higher sucrose consumption than those receiving lower concentration solutions. This phenomenon, indicative of a magnitude of reinforcement effect was not accompanied by evidence of successive negative contrast. In Experiment 3 we evaluated the magnitude of reinforcement extinction effect in 7-12 PND rats. Animals received 12% sucrose or water in preshift phase and both groups received a neutral solution (i.e., water) in the second phase. A magnitude of reinforcement acquisition effect was again observed, yet there were no differences between groups in extinction phase. In Experiment 4 we used an anticipatory contrast procedure in 10-16 PND pups. A magnitude of reinforcement, but not an anticipatory contrast effect was observed. Overall the results indicate that: (a) rats from - at least- 8 PND discriminate between different concentrations of sucrose, and (b) until the second week of life the response to rewards is mainly regulated by their absolute value and not by their relative value. Results are discussed terms of the ontogeny of paradoxical effects of reward and its relationship to Amsel’s theory.

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