Iron appetite and latent learning in rats

Physiol Behav. 1977 Nov;19(5):623-6. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(77)90036-1.


Two experiments are reported which show that rats are capable of forming an association between the presence of iron in a solution when it is not specifically needed and a subsequent state of iron deficiency. Specifically, rats were trained to lever press for water while thirsty. One group received ferrous ions in addition to the water. When these rats were subsequently rendered iron deficient, they lever pressed more under extinction conditions as a graded function of lower hemoglobin levels. Controls that either did not receive ferrous ions during training or received solutions other than ferrous solutions during training did not respond this way under extinction conditions. This is therefore a type of latent learning previously demonstrated only for sodium appetite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Hypochromic / physiopathology
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / psychology
  • Animals
  • Appetite*
  • Association
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Iron*
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Rats


  • Iron