Biasing the pacemaker in the behavioral theory of timing
In the behavioral theory of timing, pacemaker rate is determined by overall rate of reinforcement. A two-alternative free-operant psychophysical procedure was employed to investigate whether pacemaker period was also sensitive to the differential rate of reinforcement. Responding on a left key during the first 25 s and on a right key during the second 25 s of a 50-s trial was reinforced at variable intervals, and variable-interval schedule values during the two halves of the trials were varied systematically. Responding on the right key during the first 25 s and on the left key during the second 25 s was not reinforced. Estimates of pacemaker period were derived from fits of a function predicted by the behavioral theory of timing to right-key response proportions in consecutive 5-s bins of the 50-s trial. Estimates of pacemaker period were shortest when the differential reinforcer rate most strongly favored right-key responses, and were longest when the differential reinforcer rate most strongly favored left-key responses. The results were consistent with the conclusion that pacemaker rate is influenced by relative reinforcer rate.
Bizo, LA & White, KG 1995, 'Biasing the pacemaker in the behavioral theory of timing', Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, vol. 64, no. 2, pp. 225-235.
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