Mechanics of reinforcement

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Publication details

Killeen, PR, & Bizo, LA 1998, 'Mechanics of reinforcement', paper presented to 21st annual meeting of the Society for Quantitative Analyses of Behavior, Orlando, Florida, USA, May 22-23.


A key construct in Killeen’s (1994) mechanics is the short-term memory trace. It is asserted that reinforcement strengthens whatever is in STM. On short schedules, this includes the memory of the consummatory behavior elicited by the prior reinforcer, which undermines high rates on those schedules. This memorial interpretation is tested by evaluating the rates of decay of short-term memory for colored key-lights in a dozen pigeons; those rates are correlated with the (inferred) rates of decay of memory for pecking in the same animals on ratio schedules.