Running and responding reinforced by the opportunity to run: effect of reinforcer duration

J Exp Anal Behav. 1997 May;67(3):337-51. doi: 10.1901/jeab.1997.67-337.


The present study investigated the effect of reinforcer duration on running and on responding reinforced by the opportunity to run. Eleven male Wistar rats responded on levers for the opportunity to run in a running wheel. Opportunities to run were programmed to occur on a tandem fixed-ratio 1 variable-interval 30-s reinforcement schedule. Reinforcer duration varied across conditions from 30 to 120 s. As reinforcer duration increased, the rates of running and lever pressing declined, and latency to lever press increased. The increase in latency to respond was consistent with findings that unconditioned inhibitory aftereffects of reinforcement increase with reinforcer magnitude. The decrease in local lever-pressing rates, however, was inconsistent with the view that response strength increases with the duration of the reinforcer. Response rate varied inversely, not directly, with reinforcer duration. Furthermore, within-session data challenge satiation, fatigue, and response deprivation as determinants of the observed changes in running and responding. In sum, the results point to the need for further research with nonappetitive forms of reinforcement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior*
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Running