chapter  39
5 Pages

Learning and Performance Motivated by Direct Stimulation of the Brain

WithNeal E. Miller

Certain types of central stimulation appear to have functional properties of normally elicited drives. The administration of central stimulation motivates, and its termination reinforces, trial-and-error learning. It can be used to establish a conditioned response. After the stimulation has been used to condition an emotional disturbance to a distinctive compartment, during trials without further stimulation, cats learn to escape from that compartment. The stimulation also functions as a punishment to teach hungry animals to avoid food. Stimulation of certain points in the brain elicits ejaculations in male rats without eliciting other parts of the pattern of normal sexual behavior, such as mounting and pelvic thrusts. The stimulation also functions as a punishment to teach hungry animals to avoid food. However, in a bar-pressing situation, electrical stimulation of a specific hypothalamic area in the rat’s brain seems to have many of the functional properties of normal hunger.