The temporal organization of operant behavior: a response bout analysis
Many behaviors are organized into bouts – brief periods of responding punctuated by pauses. This dissertation examines the operant bouts of the lever pressing rat. Chapter 1 provides a brief history of operant response bout analyses. Chapters 2, 3, 5, and 6 develop new probabilistic models to identify changes in response bout parameters. The parameters of those models are demonstrated to be uniquely sensitive to different experimental manipulations, such as food deprivation (Chapters 2 and 4), response requirements (Chapters 2, 4, and 5), and reinforcer availability (Chapters 2 and 3). Chapter 6 reveals the response bout parameters that underlie the operant hyperactivity of a common rodent model of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR). Chapter 6 then ameliorates the SHR’s operant hyperactivity using training procedures developed from findings in Chapters 2 and 4. Collectively, this dissertation provides new tools for the assessment of response bouts and demonstrates their utility for discerning differences between experimental preparations and animal strains that may be otherwise indistinguishable with more primitive methods.