Neonatal thermotaxis improves reversal of a thermally reinforced operant response.


One-, 5-, and 11-day-old rats in a cool environment (25 degrees C) acquired an operant response when rewarded with a 20-s-long warming of the platform (from 25 to 36 degrees C) on which they lay. In Experiment 1, the head-turning response was learned by pups at all ages. When the contingency was reversed so that pups were reinforced for turning to the side opposite that correct during training, the original response extinguished for 1-day-olds, but not for 5- or 11-day-olds. In Experiment 2, the rewarded side was randomly selected for each trial. One-day-olds perseverated in turning to the side correct on that trial while the reinforcer remained on, but 5- and 11-day-old rat pups did not. We conclude that 1-day-old pups were more responsive to the change in experimental contingency in Experiment 1 due to this thermotaxic behavior.

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@article{Hoffman1999NeonatalTI, title={Neonatal thermotaxis improves reversal of a thermally reinforced operant response.}, author={Chrisfoph M. Hoffman and G. S. Flory and Jeffrey R . Alberts}, journal={Developmental psychobiology}, year={1999}, volume={34 2}, pages={87-99} }