• Response acquisition;
  • response induction;
  • response location;
  • delayed reinforcement;
  • lever pressing;
  • rats

The acquisition of lever pressing by rats and the occurrence of unreinforced presses at a location different from that of the reinforced response were studied using different delays of reinforcement. An experimental chamber containing seven identical adjoining levers was used. Only presses on the central (operative) lever produced food pellets. Groups of 3 rats were exposed to one of seven different tandem random-interval (RI) fixed-time (FT) schedules. The average RI duration was the complement of the FT duration such that their sum yielded a nominal 32-s interreinforcement interval on average. Response rate on the operative lever decreased as the FT value was lengthened. The spatial distribution of responses on the seven levers converged on the operative lever when the FT was 0 or 2 s and spread across the seven levers as the FT value was lengthened to 16 or 32 s. Presses on the seven levers were infrequent during the FT schedule. Both operative- and inoperative-lever pressing intertwined in repetitive patterns that were consistent within subjects but differed between subjects. These findings suggest that reinforcer delay determined the response-induction gradient.