Tail-pinch stimulation: sufficient motivation for learning

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Science  05 Nov 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4265, pp. 637-639
DOI: 10.1126/science.982032


A paper clip applied to the tails of rats induced gnawing and eating, which decreased in latency and increased in duration with experience. With sustained pressure to the tail, rats learned a new habit in order to gain access to wood chips on which to gnaw. That these are also properties of behavior elicited by electrical brain stimulation suggests that both manipulations may act through the same mechanism. These results support the hypothesis that a nonspecific arousing stimulus can be a sufficient condition for establishing learned habits.