Behavior typically becomes more variable in the face of a drop in the value of a motivating outcome, such as food. Dr. Blaisdell will review converging lines of evidence for this relationship from studies in his lab. He will describe the negative relationship between found between the signaled probability of food and variability in behavior. This relationship is quite general: Observed in both temporal and spatial behavioral dimensions, in both rats and pigeons, and in both the operant chamber and in open-field settings. Behavioral variability is also greater under conditions involving smaller or delayed food rewards compared to larger or immediate rewards. Dr. Blaisdell will describe some manipulations of the response-outcome contingency that reveal interesting relationships between Pavlovian and instrumental processes. These data support a general conclusion that signaled outcome value is an important determinant of behavioral variability in a wide variety of conditioned behaviors.
Review Aaron Blaisdell’s biographical statement.