Effects of Deprivation and Testing Procedures on Preference for Stimuli Correlated with Food Reinforcement Under Higher Deprivation Conditions in Mice
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A number of recent studies have found that organisms appear to prefer stimuli correlated with food reinforcement under higher food deprivation levels relative to stimuli correlated with food under lower deprivation levels. This has led some researchers to assume a general relation between food deprivation level and preference regardless of procedural details. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the generality of the relation between food deprivation magnitude and preference by using mice as subjects and employing three different deprivation methods and three different preference test procedures. Experiment 1 employed an hours-deprived deprivation method. A pre-feeding deprivation method was assessed in Experiment 2. Experiment 3 imposed deprivation through food rationing. In each experiment, three groups of mice were exposed to three different preference test procedures. Robust preference for high deprivation stimuli was not observed in any of the experiments, but the greatest degree of preference was observed under the hours-deprived and food rationing deprivation methods with discrete-trial preference tests. The results suggest that the degree of discriminability between the stimuli correlated with reinforcement as well as between high and low deprivation conditions affects the extent to which preference for high deprivation stimuli is exhibited. This means that the relationship between motivation and preference depends in part upon the features of the procedure by which this relation is studied.