Instrumental performance following a shift in primary motivation depends on incentive learning

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 1992 Jul;18(3):236-50.


In 5 experiments the role of incentive learning in instrumental performance following a shift in primary motivation was examined. In Experiments 1 and 2 rats trained to perform an instrumental action reinforced by either pellets or maltodextrin when in a low-deprivation state were shifted to a high-deprivation state and tested in extinction. This shift in deprivation increased performance only if the animals had been exposed to the reinforcer in the high-deprivation state prior to instrumental training. Experiments 3, 4, and 5 examined the reverse shift training in a high-deprivation state and testing in a low-deprivation state, and found, similarly, that performance was only sensitive to this shift if animals were previously exposed to the reinforcer while in the low-deprivation state. These experiments support the conclusion that instrumental performance following revaluation of the reinforcer depends on a process of incentive learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior*
  • Association Learning
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Conditioning, Operant*
  • Drive
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Food Deprivation
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Motivation*
  • Rats
  • Reinforcement Schedule*