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Operant Conditioning - Essay Example

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Summary
The purpose of the current study is to explore the effects of both odor and tone on naïve rats in a laboratory setting to ascertain how these stimuli, when combined, affect rat behavior above the free operant baseline…
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Operant Conditioning
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Download file to see previous pages The experiment was conducted on four naïve rats kept under strictly controlled conditions, each identical to the other to preserve any bias towards any one situation. Overall, the aim of the study was to explore how the different stimuli outlined above work in combination with each other to provide a response leading to certain behaviors in rats, possibly with the overall aim in uncovering how these responses may be similar in other animals. Evidently, in reality, animals are rarely subjected to merely one stimuli or set of stimuli, and therefore understanding how these work both individually and cumulatively is important in gaining a proper understanding of operant conditioning and behavior in response to sets of stimuli.
Methods
The methods for this study are complex. The subjects for the testing were, as previously mentioned, four naïve rats who had their weight reduced to 75-80% of their free-feeding weight. The main apparatus used was custom-made for the experiment with the aim of promoting the olfactory stimulus aspect of the testing. The chamber was linked to equipment which released smell. This smell was released by an olfactometer which was programmed to release the scent through a valve which limited and regulated the amount and strength of the smell, promoting equality between the different rat conditions. Measures were also taken to prevent other olfactory stimulation being present in the chamber which may act to alter the testing results. Additionally, the chamber contained a microswitch lever which, when pushed, dispensed a pellet of food to the rats. There was also equipment for promoting the auditory signaling, which was given out using a speaker which was similarly controlled to ensure validity. The rats themselves were given pre-experimental training, with rats O-1 and O-2 being exposed to training using the odor stimulus and O-3 and O-4 being trained using the sound stimulus. This was done in such a way that rats were exposed to either stimulus in an identical manner, and to promote the identification of the stimulus with the food. All rats were then exposed to three-ply multiple schedule sessions in which they were exposed to both stimuli separately as well as having neither stimulus. After the extensive training the rats were then exposed to the combination of tone and odor for the first time and their responses were measured. Details This study provides an immense amount of detail when describing the experimental methods and the results from the operant conditioning. There is no clearly stated hypothesis in this work, but the authors have explored the work on additive summation in operative conditioning with previous combinations of stimuli and recognize the importance of olfactory stimuli in rats, therefore suggest that there may be a similar additive element when combining smell and tone. The subjects are the naive rats as described above, and there is no control group although the investigation did measure the rat’s responses to the stimuli separately before the experiment during the training period. This information was recorded and noted in the test, therefore the control group could be said to be the rats prior to training. Evidently, the operational definition in this case of the rat’s response to stimuli is how they interact with the lever supplied that dispenses food. This is important, as there is no neurological imaging aspect to the testing so this behavior is assumed to be directly linked to the brain response to noise and smell stimuli. Similarly, the independent variable in this testing is ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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