Alteration of classically conditioned heart rate by operant reinforcement in monkeys

George W. Ainslie, Bernard T. Engel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ran 6 adolescent male rhesus monkeys alternately on classical conditioning and on operant heart rate training schedules. The classical unconditioned stimulus (UCS) was identical to the operant negative reinforcement. After operant training, some Ss changed their heart rate responses to the classical conditioned stimulus (CS). When both the operant and the classical schedules were in force simultaneously, all Ss changed their previous heart rate responses to the classical CS without significantly changing their blood pressure responses to this stimulus. The changes in heart rate response to the CS sometimes persisted long after the operant schedules were no longer in force. These results show that a classically conditioned response can be altered by operant reinforcement, and they suggest that the classical UCS actually may be an operant reinforcer. (29 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-382
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 1974


  • operant reinforcement, alteration of classically conditioned heart rate, male monkeys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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