Response acquisition and fixed-ratio escalation based on interresponse times in rats

J Exp Anal Behav. 2010 Mar;93(2):261-7. doi: 10.1901/jeab.2010.93-261.


The effectiveness of a fixed-ratio (FR) escalation procedure, developed by Pinkston and Branch (2004) and based on interresponse times (IRTs), was assessed during lever-press acquisition. Forty-nine experimentally naïve adult male Long Evans rats were deprived of food for 24 hr prior to an extended acquisition session. Before the start of the session, three food pellets were placed in the magazine. Otherwise, no magazine training, shaping, nor autoshaping procedure was employed. The first 20 presses each resulted in the delivery of a 45-mg food pellet. Then, the FR increased (2, 4, 8, 11, 16, 20, 25, 30) when each IRT in the ratio was less than 2 s during three consecutive ratios. Sessions lasted 13 hr or until 500 pellets were earned. On average, rats reached a terminal ratio of 11 (mean) or 16 (median) during the first session. Seven rats reached the maximum value of FR 30 and only one rat did not acquire the response. In most rats, a break-and-run pattern of responding characteristic of FR schedules began to develop in this acquisition session. Subsequently, the ratio-escalation procedure continued during daily 2-hr sessions. In these sessions, the starting ratio requirement was set at the terminal ratio reached in the previous session. Using this procedure, over half (26) of the rats reached the FR 30 requirement by the fourth session. These data demonstrate that a ratio-escalation procedure based on IRTs provides a time-efficient way of establishing ratio responding.

Keywords: acquisition; fixed-ratio stretching; interresponse time; lever press; rat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Conditioning, Operant*
  • Food
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reinforcement Schedule*
  • Reward*