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Sequential and Temporal Properties of Behavior Induced By a Schedule of Periodic Food Delivery

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I. Five hungry rats were exposed to a schedule of periodic food presentation, receiving a single pellet every 30 sec., in an apparatus that permitted drinking, running, and other activities. The development, extinction, and structure of behavior sequences under this regimen was studied in three experiments. 2. All the rats developed a stable pattern of behavior after twenty or so half-hour sessions. The modal pattern was drinking early in the interfood interval, running in the middle, and food anticipation at the end. This temporal pattern was associated with different sequential patterns in different individuals. 3. Elimination of opportunity to engage in one or more activities resulted in an increase in other activities, but the increase was not in simple proportion to their frequency under baseline conditions. 4. In the steady state the sequence of behaviors in each interval appeared to be determined by two main factors: (a) post-eating time, and (b) the "momentum" associated with an ongoing activity. Differences among individual rats appeared to be due largely to differences in the second factor.


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Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Duke University, Durham, U.S.A.


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