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Short Duration Time Constant Associated With Chewing in the Guinea Pig

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Previous investigations have reported a time constant on the order of a few seconds associated with temporal perception in humans, and with movement patterns in humans and other mammalian species. It has been suggested that the time constant represents the operation of a physiological oscillatory mechanism that is common among many mammalian species. However, the time constant has not yet been observed in laboratory animals; therefore, there is no laboratory-based behavior paradigm upon which studies into the physiological nature of this time constant can be based. Because of our familiarity with guinea pig feeding, the current study was undertaken in order to find evidence of the time constant in feeding-associated activities of guinea pigs. Eleven guinea pigs were starved for a 24 hr period, then placed individually into a rich behavioral arena for 30 min, during which time they were videotaped continuously while they roamed freely. The animals inevitably ate during these videotape sessions, and a detailed analysis of chewing parameters was done. It was found that chewing typically occurs in bursts, and that the median burst duration was 1.03 - 3.46 s for individual animals. Chewing burst durations were similar to the durations of many movement patterns in other species including humans. This provides further support for the hypothesis that there is a highly conserved time constant associated with movement patterns in mammals. It is believed that guinea pig chewing bursts provide a convenient laboratory based model for elucidating the neuro-physiologic mechanisms of this time constant.

Affiliations: 1: Neuroethologic Systems Science Laboratory, University of Michigan School of Den-tistry, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1078, U.S.A.; 2: 325 Squire Hall, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14214, U.S.A.

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