Reward magnitude and delay to reward were independently manipulated in two separate experiments examining risk-sensitive choice in rats. A dual-running wheel apparatus was used and the tangential force resistance required to displace both wheels was low (50g) for half of the subjects, and high (120g) for the remaining subjects. Concurrent FI30-s and FI60-s schedules delivered equivalent amounts of food reward per unit time (i.e. 5 and 10 pellets of food, respectively), and these conditions served as the baseline treatment for all subjects. Variability, either in reward magnitude or delay, was introduced on the long-delay (60s) schedule during the second phase. All subjects were returned to the baseline condition in the third phase, and variability was introduced on the short-delay (30s) interval schedule during phase four. The subjects were again returned to the baseline condition in the fifth and final phase, ultimately yielding a five-phase ABACA design. Original baseline performance was characterized by a slight short-delay interval preference, and this pattern of performance was recovered with each subsequent presentation of the baseline condition. Overall, the data obtained from the reward magnitude and delay-to-reward manipulations were indistinguishable; subjects experiencing low-response effort requirement behaved in a risk-indifferent manner and subjects experiencing high-response effort requirement preferred the variable schedule. Implications for the daily energy budget rule on risk-sensitive foraging are discussed in light of these findings.
- Concurrent schedules
- Response effort
- Risk-sensitive foraging theory