A theory of attending and reinforcement in conditional discriminations (Nevin, Davison, & Shahan, 2005) is extended to working memory in delayed matching to sample by adding terms for disruption of attending during the retention interval. Like its predecessor, the theory assumes that reinforcers and disruptors affect the independent probabilities of attending to sample and comparison stimuli in the same way as the rate of overt free-operant responding as suggested by Nevin and Grace (2000), and that attending is translated into discriminative performance by the model of Davison and Nevin (1999). The theory accounts for the effects of sample-stimulus discriminability and retention-interval disruption on the levels and slopes of forgetting functions, and for the diverse relations between accuracy and sensitivity to reinforcement reported in the literature. It also accounts for the effects of reinforcer probability in multiple schedules on the levels and resistance to change of forgetting functions; for the effects of reinforcer probabilities signaled within delayed-matching trials; and for the effects of reinforcer delay, sample duration, and intertrial-interval duration. The model accounts for some data that have been problematic for previous theories, and makes testably different predictions of the effects of reinforcer probabilities and disruptors on forgetting functions in multiple schedules and signaled trials.
- delayed matching to sample