Feedback functions, optimization, and the relation of response rate to reinforcer rate

Paul L. Soto, Jack J. Mcdowell, Jesse Dallery

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The present experiment arranged a series of inverted U-shaped feedback functions relating reinforcer rate to response rate to test whether responding was consistent with an optimization account or with a one-to-one relation of response rate to reinforcer rate such as linear system theory's rate equation or Herrnstein's hyperbola. Reinforcer rate was arranged according to a quadratic equation with a maximum at a unique response rate. The experiment consisted of two phases, during which 6 Long Evans rats lever pressed for food. In the first phase of the experiment, the rats responded on six fixed-interval-plus- quadratic-feedback schedules, and in the second phase the rats responded on three variable-interval-plus-quadratic-feedback schedules. Responding in both phases was inconsistent with a one-to-one relation of response rate to reinforcer rate. Instead, different response rates were obtained at equivalent reinforcer rates. Responding did vary directly with the vertex of the feedback function in both phases, a finding consistent with optimization of reinforcer rate. The present results suggest that the feedback function relating reinforcer rate to response rate imposed by a reinforcement schedule can be an important determinant of behavior. Furthermore, the present experiment illustrates the benefit of arranging feedback functions to investigate assumptions about the variables that control schedule performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-71
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Volume85
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2006

Keywords

  • Feedback functions
  • Herrnstein's hyperbola
  • Lever pressing
  • Linear system theory
  • Optimization
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Feedback functions, optimization, and the relation of response rate to reinforcer rate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this