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ACQUISITION OF SIDMAN AVOIDANCE RESPONDING AS A FUNCTION OF S-S INTERVAL
RUSSELL C. LEAF1 Squibb Institute for Medical Research Procedures for producing rapid and reliable lever-press Sidman avoidance acquisition in 100% of an unselected group of rats are described. Groups of 12 rats were exposed to schedules with an R-S interval of 20 sec., at S-S intervals of 1, 3, 5, 10, and 20 sec., with a constant power shocker. 1st session response levels were a monotonically decreasing .function of S-S interval. The hypothesis that acquisition probability is due to reduction of shock frequency was supported, but acquisition levels of responses with spaced IRTs were unrelated to S-S intervals.
Each S was given one 6-hr, acquisition session. The naive S was placed in a darkened experimental chamber. After 10 min., a 20-v. General Electric 304 house light was turned on, and the experimental contingencies started. The responseshock (R-S) interval was 20 sec. and shock duration 0.3 sec. for all Ss. Lever presses did not alter shock duration. A small pilot light mounted above METHOD each lever was illuminated for 40 msec, each time the lever was depressed. Avoidance contingencies Subjects were programed on only one lever for each S. The The Ss were 40, 250-300 gm, male and 20, 200- right lever was ,the avoidance lever for half the 250 gm. female albino rats purchased from Camm male and half the female Ss, and the left lever Research Institute, Wayne, New Jersey. was the avoidance lever for the remaining /Ss. The Ss were ran in 12 replications of 5 Ss. Apparatus Each replication contained only male, or only The experimental space was a modified Lehigh female, Ss. Within a replication, Ss were randomly Valley Electronics No. 1316 chamber, 7% X 12 X . assigned to order of training and to one of five 8 in. It had two LVE 1352 levers mounted sym- S-S intervals, 1, 3, 5, 10, and 20 sec. metrically on one 8 in. wall. The centers of the Stanley A. Muller provided assistance in analysis of data, and Peter L. Carlton commented on preliminary manuscript drafts of the work described.
Although many experiments have replicated Sidman's (1953) finding that rats can be trained to perform avoidance responses without exteroceptive warning stimuli, little parametric information on Sidman avoidance acquisition has been reported. This lack is probably due to the fact that methods for producing reliable lever-pressing Sidman avoidance learning in all Ss, from an unselected group of rats, are not readily available. The Es who have trained large groups of & have sometimes CVVeissman, 1962) reported a large percentage of training failures, even when the behavior was: studied for many training sessions. The present paper reports procedures for producing reliable and rapid acquisition of Sidman avoidance responding in a single experimental session. The shock-shock (S-S) interval was systematically varied in order to obtain data on the role of shock density reduction in Sidman avoidance acquisition. The only unusual feature of the training conditions was the use of a relatively constant power source (Campbell & Teghtsoonian, 1958; Hill, Flanary, Kornetsky, & Wikler, 1962), rather than constant current, shock source.
levers were 1V4 in. above the grid floor of the chamber, and were 5 in. apart. The chamber, in an LVE 1316 C sound insulated cubicle, was placed in a room separate from automatic programing and recording equipment. The chamber blower fan and a masking white noise served to minimize the effects of extraneous stimuli. The shock source was a modified LVE 1311 shocker. It consisted of (a) a step-up isolation transformer adjusted so that the voltage in its secondary coil was 725-v. ac, (t>) a 100 K ohm shunt across this secondary, (c) a 136 K ohm resistance in series with it, (d) an oil-immersed grid scrambler, (e) 40-ft. parallel wire-grid cable, (/) grid, and (g) S. This arrangement produced about 60 v. maximum across S, measured on a cathoderay oscilloscope (Tektronix Model 555), at relatively constant power, after attenuation by the capacitative reactance of scrambler, cables, and grid. Procedure
All /Ss in the 1- and 3-sec. S-S interval groups and 11 /Ss in the 5-sec. group learned to avoid reliably, but only 4 /Ss in the 10-sec. and 1 S
All nine functions were significant (H > 18. High levels of spaced responses.5. Interresponse time distributions for Ss with acquisition S-S intervals of 1. and total shocks for experimental groups with acquisition S-S intervals of 1.. however. The reliable Ss all made at least 1. for IRTs from 2-20 sec. Avoidance responding was a significant (H — 28. p < . and 5 sec. were observed. S-S intervals. 3. and showed steady rates of avoidance responding during the last hour of the session. but these levels were not monotonically related to S-S interval. df . and 20 sec. steady terminal rates) and were trained with 1. Each of the nine class intervals of 2 sec.001 for each distribution).2.001) monotonic decreasing function of S-S interval.2. 1. group did so.SUPPLEMENTARY REPORTS 299 Range \Interquartile J Ranee Mean AVOIDANCE LEVER TOTAL SHOCKS |" 3" 5" 10" S-S Interval 20 3" 5" 10" S-S Interval FIG. and 20 sec. are shown for each S-S interval. [ S r 1 S i « o• n • ' " 3 " 5" 10" 20 Means I O • '( 3 Interquartile Range Range U> 1200 « 1100 g 1000 2 900 K 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 o ct  '' A [ ^ H1  1 1 IT 5" 100'-2"IRTS 1 1"3"5" 10" 2"-20"IRTS. p < . as judged from cumulative records. with peaks at either 3 or 5 sec.. 5. (Means. None of the & that failed to learn reliably had steady terminal rates. 11 Iff 1'3" 510" >20" IRTS 1 2 0 20- FIG. 5. and (6) responses that occurred after the receipt of an R-S shock (IRTs > 20 sec.20). p > .0. this monotonic function was due primarily to the levels of (a) rapid burst-like responses with interresponse times (IRTs) less than 2 see..1.50). When avoidance responses were categorized by IRTs. and greater than 20 see. 0-2 sec. IRT responses were a nonsignificant decreasing function of S-S interval (H = 2. with IRTs of 2-20 sec. Means.000 responses on the avoidance lever.000 responses on the avoidance lever. interquartile ranges. df . interquartile ranges. and ranges of the frequency of responses with IRTs of 0-2 sec.. df = 4. and ranges of relevant lever responses.) . The effect of the S-S interval on avoidance lever responding is shown in Figure 1. In order to assess the effect of S-S interval. showed an inverted U-shaped function relating response level to S-S interval. and all of these Ss spent more than 50% of the session in the S-S intervals and made fewer than 1. in the 20-sec. 3. 50% S-S time. 2. spent less than 50% of the time in S-S intervals. 10. 10. as shown in Figure 2. 3.000 responses.6.). 2-20 RELEVANT LEVER IRT DISTRIBUTIONS 2142 1930 1700 1600 1500 1400 1300 . These & showed no significant relationship between avoidance responding and S-S interval (H = 0. additional analysis was carried out on the data of only those <Ss that learned reliably (1. p > . df = 4. 2-20 sec. As Figure 2 shows.
IRTs across S-S intervals of 1-5 sec. /.. J. REFERENCES ANGER. J. 1962. At the 1-. 1962. The role of temporal discriminations in the reinforcement of Sidman avoidance behavior. A. Behav. S-S interval).6.300 SUPPLEMENTARY REPORTS conditions which all produced good acquisition. The 5-sec.30). 4. M. Avoidance conditioning with brief shock and no exteroceptive warning signal.. BLACK. and no instances of crouching or freezing during shock were ever observed.001). 1964) sec. and (c) that the first session frequency of responses with IRTs of intermediate latency is an inverted U-shaped function of acquisition S-S interval. A. 185-192. The monotonic function observed is also consistent with Black and Morse's (1961) findings. These data confirm Sidman's (1962) impression that acquisition during early exposure to avoidance contingencies is best at brief S-S intervals.. df . but significant (H = 20. G. Psychol.. 1962. from the standpoint of responses performed per shock delivered. 3-. 464-472. the significance of this function was partly due to the restriction on the maximum total shocks in 6 hr. intervals.17-23. Science. & WIKLER.. R. Ss responded almost as often as the 1-sec. Every /S was observed for at least 20 successive shock presentations. 31. at every intermediate 2-sec. Most irrelevant responding occurred early in the session before avoidance response rates were stable. Nondiscriminated avoidance behavior in a large sample of rats. under . 1958. M. exp. Anal. and is consistent with evidence that the major determinant of Sidman avoidance IRT distributions is the R-S rather than S-S interval. & TBGHTSOONIAN. 591-600. p < . Anal. WEISSMAN. The effect of S-S interval on total shocks was nonmonotonic. A. is probably due to the fact that repetitive responding after shock consists almost entirely of responses with brief IRTs. P. These observations often covered as many as 100 successive shocks. p > . the number of avoidance lever presses per shock delivered was an increasing function of S-S interval over the range from 1-5 sec. Investig. even though between group differences of Ss trained at S-S intervals of 1-5 sec.5. KORNETSKT. The consistent appearance of an ascending limb.2. D. Behav. This finding is consistent with previous data (Anger.157-158.. Rep. comp. IRT responses were a nonsignificant increasing function of S-S interval (H = 1.8. H. as part of an inverted U-shaped function. 1953. J. IRT category from 2-20 sec. imposed on »Ss with S-S intervals of 10 and 20 sec. Behav. exp. C. din. Anal. physiol. and 5-sec. SIDMAN. and were made at randomly selected time periods during experimental sessions. range. & MOUSE. Thus. 118. J. A. SIDMAN. Psychol. HILL. Relationship of electrically induced pain to the amperage and wattage of shock stimuli. Electrical and behavioral effects of different types of shock stimuli on the rat. 5.01). across S-S intervals of 1-5 sec. 1963. DISCUSSION The major findings of this experiment are (a) that reliable acquisition of Sidman avoidance lever pressing can be produced in 100% of an unselected group of rats under appropriate training conditions. 1961. 247-257. (Received May 25. were not significant. H. The nonsignificant increasing level of responses with IRTs of 2-20 sec. 51. deserves attention. no significant relationship was found between S-S interval and responses with IRTs that were briefer than the R-S interval. exp. were a significant monotonic decreasing function of S-S interval (H = 10.. dj = 2.. CAMPBELL. It appears from these data that the condition with the longest S-S interval among several highly effective training conditions is the "best" Sidman avoidance training condition. but received many fewer shocks. 10. Ss. (6) that first session response levels are a monotonically decreasing function of acquisition S-S interval. The observed behavior of all Ss in response to shock consisted of jumping and running movements. is the ascending limb of the significant inverted U-shaped function relating such responses to S-S intervals over the whole 1-20 sec. 6. that Sidman avoidance acquisition improved as S-S intervals approached escape contingencies (0sec. E. B. Reduction of shock frequency as reinforcement for avoidance behavior. df = 4.. Responding on the irrelevant lever was infrequent for all S-S interval groups (all means less than 400 responses). with dogs in a shuttle box. H.. 1963) from well-trained animals. The nonsignificant decreasing level of responses with 0-2 sec. As Figure 1 indicates. and IRTs greater than 20 sec. 477-506. H. FLANARY. Avoidance learning in dogs without a warning stimulus. p < .
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