Drive Decay: The Cause of Fast "Extinction" of Habits Learned for Brain Stimulation

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Science  06 Jul 1962:
Vol. 137, Issue 3523, pp. 35-36
DOI: 10.1126/science.137.3523.35


According to Deutsch's theory of intracranial self-stimulation, cessation of responding after the withdrawal of the stimulus should be a simple function of time without stimulation. To test this prediction, the lever was withdrawn from a Skinner box for varying times, then replaced and normal extinction completed. The number of extinction trials was a simple function of the time the lever was out of the box, thus confirming Deutsch's hypothesis that cessation of responding in this instance is due to a decay of a motivational excitation produced by the electrical stimulation, and not a function of the number of unreinforced trials as in normal extinction.