There is evidence suggesting aggression may be a positive reinforcer in many species. However, only a few studies have examined the characteristics of aggression as a positive reinforcer in mice. Four types of reinforcement schedules were examined in the current experiment using male Swiss CFW albino mice in a resident-intruder model of aggression as a positive reinforcer. A nose poke response on an operant conditioning panel was reinforced under fixed-ratio (FR 8), fixed-interval (FI 5-min), progressive ratio (PR 2), or differential reinforcement of low rate behavior reinforcement schedules (DRL 40-s and DRL 80-s). In the FR conditions, nose pokes were maintained by aggression and extinguished when the aggression contingency was removed. There were long postreinforcement pauses followed by bursts of responses with short interresponse times (IRTs). In the FI conditions, nose pokes were maintained by aggression, occurred more frequently as the interval elapsed, and extinguished when the contingency was removed. In the PR conditions, nose pokes were maintained by aggression, postreinforcement pauses increased as the ratio requirement increased, and responding was extinguished when the aggression contingency was removed. In the DRL conditions, the nose poke rate decreased, while the proportional distributions of IRTs and postreinforcement pauses shifted toward longer durations as the DRL interval increased. However, most responses occurred before the minimum IRT interval elapsed, suggesting weak temporal control of behavior. Overall, the findings suggest aggression can be a positive reinforcer for nose poke responses in mice on ratio- and time-based reinforcement schedules.
Keywords: CFW mice; aggression; differential reinforcement of low rate; fixed-interval; fixed-ratio; nose poke; positive reinforcement; progressive-ratio.