DRL interresponse-time distributions: quantification by peak deviation analysis

J Exp Anal Behav. 1993 Sep;60(2):361-85. doi: 10.1901/jeab.1993.60-361.


Peak deviation analysis is a quantitative technique for characterizing interresponse-time distributions that result from training on differential-reinforcement-of-low-rate schedules of reinforcement. It compares each rat's obtained interresponse-time distribution to the corresponding negative exponential distribution that would have occurred if the rat had emitted the same number of responses randomly in time, at the same rate. The comparison of the obtained distributions with corresponding negative exponential distributions provides the basis for computing three standardized metrics (burst ratio, peak location, and peak area) that quantitatively characterize the profile of the obtained interresponse-time distributions. In Experiment 1 peak deviation analysis quantitatively described the difference between the interresponse-time distributions of rats trained on variable-interval 300-s and differential-reinforcement-of-low-rate 72-s schedules of reinforcement. In Experiment 2 peak deviation analysis differentiated between the effects of the psychomotor stimulant d-amphetamine, the anxiolytic compound chlordiazepoxide, and the antidepressant desipramine. The results suggest that peak deviation analysis of interresponse-time distributions may provide a useful behavioral assay system for characterizing the effects of drugs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior* / drug effects
  • Chlordiazepoxide / pharmacology
  • Conditioning, Operant* / drug effects
  • Desipramine / pharmacology
  • Dextroamphetamine / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Motivation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reinforcement Schedule*


  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Desipramine
  • Dextroamphetamine