Biological Determinants of Reinforcement - Vol. 7

By Michael L. Commons; Russell M. Church et al. | Go to book overview

2
The Reward Summation Function in Hypothalamic Self-Stimulation

James R. Stellar Meg Waraczynski Kin Wong Harvard University

The neuroscience of motivated behavior, as other sciences, depends on the types and quality of its tools. Just as early advances in astronomy were made possible by refinements in glass-shaping methods and the invention of the telescope, so too will advances in behavioral and biological techniques permit the growth and development of behavioral neuroscience. However, even though much attention has been focused on the development of biological methods, in our opinion behavioral neuroscience has not given enough attention to refining its behavioral methods. For example, in the early days of self-stimulation research few investigators considered the inadequacies of simple rate of response on a continuous reinforcement schedule as a behavioral measure. Data showing that a drug administration reduced response rate were presented without enough consideration for whether the primary action was to reduce the reward properties of electrical stimulation of the brain (ESB), or to interfere with motor performance capabilities of the subject.

In recent years, there has been a tendency to employ rate-free measures such as the set-reset ( Neill, Gaar, Clark, & Britt, 1982), extinction ( Fouriezos, Hanson , & Wise, 1978; Gallistel, Boytim, Gomita, & Klebanoff, 1982), postreinforcement pause ( Cassens, Actor, Kling, & Schildkraut, 1981), reward summation function ( Edmonds & Gallistel, 1974; Franklin, 1978; Miliaressis, Rompré, & Durivage, 1982; Stellar & Neeley, 1982), response strength ( Hamilton, Stellar, & Hart, 1985; Heyman, chapter 8 of this volume). Although this is a good trend, it is disappointing to see that only some of these methods have been validated with simple tests such as degrading the reward of the ESB by lowering pulse frequency or current or increasing task difficulty by introducing a physical obstacle. Such tests would reveal the ability of the technique to detect changes in

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