Habituation of Exploratory Behavior in Rats - Conditioning and Learning in Psychology

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Abstract

This study investigated the effects of displaced objects and spatial reorganization on habituation of exploratory behavior. The subjects, rats, each individually spent 5 minutes in an open field for 6 trials. Throughout the study, exploratory behavior was measured in the number of contacts the subject made, the number of ambulations, and contact time (seconds). Trials 1-5 were mainly used to familiarize the subject with its surroundings, naturally leading to decreasing amounts of exploratory behavior. Trial 6 involves the same routine, except displaced objects are introduced in an attempt to renew exploratory behavior and promote the building up of environmental maps and representations. Additionally, the measured behavior
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In this present study, behavior tests were used in order to determine the likelihood of renewed exploratory behavior in a familiar environment after the introduction of displaced objects. Additionally, renewed exploratory behavior seems to play a critical role in building environmental maps, leading to the integration of new spatial relationships Poucet et al. (1986).

The primary aim of this experiment was to determine if rats would gain a renewal of exploratory behavior due to displaced objects after habituation had settled in. Based on results from these previously mentioned experiments, we hypothesized that subjects were capable of renewing exploratory behavior in a spatially reorganized environment. However, this was under the assumption that complications such as age and species type were inapplicable.

Method
Subjects
The subjects were Sprague-Dawley male rats. Their age is 150 days. The supplier is Harlan Sprague-Dawley. They are maintained on a 12:12 h light/dark cycle and are provided with ad libitum access to food.

Apparatus

Materials include an open field (OF) apparatus with a 6x6 grid drawn on the inside. Three objects, a coca-cola can, a plastic cylindrical container with rocks inside, and a plastic bear-shaped bottle were used as the objects.

Procedure

The study period included one week of familiarization and a second week devoted to experimentation.

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