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Coordinated and individual behavior in pairs of rats under variable-interval schedule

Grant number: 19/07027-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2019
Effective date (End): February 28, 2021
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Experimental Psychology
Principal researcher:Deisy das Graças de Souza
Grantee:Letícia dos Santos
Home Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:14/50909-8 - INCT 2014: Behavior, Cognition and Teaching (INCT-ECCE): relational learning and symbolic functioning, AP.TEM

Abstract

The combined behavior of two or more individuals can be selected by consequences of the environment, a process which is analogous to individual operant behavior. Previous studies have used interdependent procedures to investigate response-reinforcer dependence and the effects of the reinforcement schedule type on coordinated behavior. The laboratory in which this study will be conducted established a program to explore the effects of different schedules and was the first to investigate coordinated responding under schedules of reinforcement. One of the studies investigated the effects of fixed-ratio sizes (1, 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 50 and 70) on coordinated performance of pairs of rats under two conditions, one requiring temporally coordinated responses and another in which reinforcer deliveries depended only on independent individual responses (Coordinated versus Individual Conditions). For the Individual Condition, the function relating coordinated and individual response rates to fixed-ratio size had an inverted-U shape, replicating the function obtained with individual organisms. In the coordinated condition, while rates and proportions of coordinated responding was distributed according to the inverted U-shaped function, individual responding (responses that did not meet the coordination requirement) varied in an unsystematic way. The patterns of coordinated responses also replicated those obtained with individual organisms: Post-reinforcement pauses were longer the higher the ratio value. The present work is planned as a systematic replication of the aforementioned study, aiming to explore the effects of durations of variable interval schedules (5s, 15s, 30s, 75s, 150s and 30s, in this order), with the objective of expanding the understanding of selection processes of coordinated responding in rats. As in the previous study, we will compare conditions with and without the coordination requirement. Three pairs of rats will be used in each condition, for a total of six pairs. Data analysis will focus on describing: a) the functions that relate rate and proportion of coordinated responses to the duration of the intervals, and; b) the response patterns generated by the variable interval schedules. If responding in the coordination condition is sensitive to the schedules, a negatively accelerated function between responding and interval durations should be observed. Moreover, the variable intervals should produce response patterns characterized by a relatively constant distribution of responding without systematic variations in the post-reinforcement pauses. (AU)

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