Optimal response rates in humans and rats

J Exp Psychol Anim Learn Cogn. 2015 Jan;41(1):39-51. doi: 10.1037/xan0000049. Epub 2014 Dec 1.


The analysis of response rates has been highly influential in psychology, giving rise to many prominent theories of learning. There is, however, growing interest in explaining response rates, not as a global response to associations or value, but as a decision about how to space responses in time. Recently, researchers have shown that humans and mice can time a single response optimally; that is, in a way that maximizes reward. Here, we use the well-established differential reinforcement of low rates (DRL) timing task to show that humans and rats come close to optimizing reinforcement rate, but respond systematically faster than they should.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Probability
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats / physiology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reward*
  • Young Adult