Maintenance of Responding by Fixed-Interval Schedule of Electric Shock Presentation in Squirrel Monkeys

Science  01 Nov 1968:
Vol. 162, Issue 3853, pp. 583-585
DOI: 10.1126/science.162.3853.583


After stabilization of response rates engendered by a free-operant avoidance contingency, the lever-pressing of two squirrel monkeys was maintained for several months by a fixed-interval schedule of electric shock presentation. Initially, response-contingent shocks produced substantial increases in response rates. Continued exposure to the schedule resulted in a reduced overall rate accompanied by a change in the temporal patterning of responses. There was a pause in responding after most shock deliveries; the rate of responding then increased during the interval to reach a terminal value preceding shock presentation. Omission of shocks for part of the daily session led to higher rates of responding; the reintroduction of response-contingent shocks produced a lower overall rate and reinstated the temporal patterning of responding characteristic of the fixed-interval schedule.