Wheel running induced by intermittent food schedules

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Sixteen naïve male Wistar rats were exposed to intermittent food delivery to measure the development of schedule-induced wheel running, using fixed time (FT) 30, 60, 120, 240 and 480 s schedules, counterbalanced across animals according to a Latin square design (except under the FT 480 s, which was always presented last to complete the data set). Rats were also exposed to a massed-food control condition. Wheel running was induced in the range of 30-240 s with a gradation as a function of inter-food interval (IFI) length. The temporal distribution of wheel turns was generally presented in the form of an inverted U-shaped as IFIs progressed, showing maximum responding during the first portion of the interval. The introduction of massed-food resulted in an immediate reduction in wheel running. These results support the notion that wheel running can be schedule-induced and categorized into the so-called adjunctive behaviors. These data indicate that IFI length affects the development of schedule-induced wheel running and that the rate of wheel running is maintained by intermittent reinforcement, which are common characteristics of schedule-induced behaviors. Likewise, this idea is supported by the occurrence of a similar temporal pattern to that found with other adjunctive behaviors, such as schedule-induced polydipsia, with its maximum manifestation occurring between the beginning and middle of IFIs.

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