Timing of avoidance responses by rats

J Exp Anal Behav. 1974 Nov;22(3):513-7. doi: 10.1901/jeab.1974.22-513.


Three rats were trained on an unsignalled shuttlebox-avoidance task under three response-shock intervals (10, 20, and 40 sec). Under all conditions, subjects developed excellent temporal gradients of avoidance; that is, response rate was an increasing function of time since last response. Although the response rate at any given interval of time after the previous response was inversely related to the response-shock interval, there was an underlying similarity in the temporal gradients for the three intervals. In all cases, response rate relative to the maximum response rate was approximately equal to the proportion of the interval that had elapsed. This suggests that rats in unsignalled avoidance are estimating time from response completion, and that the units of the estimate are proportional parts of the response-shock interval.