[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Experimentally naive mice matched the proportions of their temporal investments (visit durations) in two feeding hoppers to the proportions of the food income (pellets per unit session time) derived from them in three experiments that varied the coupling between the behavioral investment and food income, from no coupling to strict coupling. Matching was observed from the outset; it did not improve with training. When the numbers of pellets received were proportional to time invested, investment was unstable, swinging abruptly from sustained, almost complete investment in one hopper, to sustained, almost complete investment in the other-in the absence of appropriate local fluctuations in returns (pellets obtained per time invested). The abruptness of the swings strongly constrains possible models. We suggest that matching reflects an innate (unconditioned) program that matches the ratio of expected visit durations to the ratio between the current estimates of expected incomes. A model that processes the income stream looking for changes in the income and generates discontinuous income estimates when a change is detected is shown to account for salient features of the data.
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 04/2007; 87(2):161-99. · 1.07 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Evidence suggests that the online combination of non-verbal magnitudes (durations, numerosities) is central to learning in both human and non-human animals [Gallistel, C.R., 1990. The Organization of Learning. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA]. The molecular basis of these computations, however, is an open question at this point. The current study provides the first direct test of temporal subtraction in a species in which the genetic code is available. In two experiments, mice were run in an adaptation of Gibbon and Church's [Gibbon, J., Church, R.M., 1981. Time left: linear versus logarithmic subjective time. J. Exp. Anal. Behav. 7, 87-107] time left paradigm in order to characterize typical responding in this task. Both experiments suggest that mice engaged in online subtraction of temporal values, although the generalization of a learned response rule to novel stimulus values resulted in slightly less systematic responding. Potential explanations for this pattern of results are discussed.