Task schematic: free-operant instrumental responding on a fixed-ratio-1 (FR-1) schedule with delayed reinforcement Subjects are offered two levers; one (the active lever) delivers a single food pellet for every press (an FR-1 schedule) and the other (the inactive lever) has no programmed consequence. Food can either be delivered immediately (a) or after a delay (b) following responses on the active lever. The levers remain available throughout the session (hence, free-operant responding: animals are free to perform the operant at any time). Events of interest are lever presses, delivery of food pellets, and collection of food by the rat (when it pokes its nose into the food alcove following food delivery). To obtain food, the hungry rat must discriminate the active from the inactive lever, which is more difficult when the outcome is delayed. In these examples, the rat's response patterns (active and inactive lever presses, and collection of food) are fictional, while food delivery is contingent upon active lever pressing.
Cardinal and Cheung BMC Neuroscience 2005 6:9 doi:10.1186/1471-2202-6-9