chapter  55
13 Pages

Instrumental Learning of Heart Rate Changes in Curarized Rats: Shaping, and Specificity to Discriminative Stimulus

WithLeo DiCara

This chapter shows whether larger changes in the heart rates of curarized rats can be achieved by “shaping” the response, that is, progressively shifting rats to a more difficult criterion after they have learned to meet an easier one. It also shows whether a visceral discrimination can be learned so that the response will be more likely to occur in the stimulus situation in which it is rewarded than in the one in which it is not. The instrumental learning of visceral responses provides a theoretical possibility for explaining some of the individual differences in patterns of visceral response, as well as for the acquisition of psychosomatic symptoms. The problem of whether or not visceral responses are subject to instrumental learning has basic significance for both the theory of psychosomatic symptoms and the theory and neurophysiology of learning.