Stimulus Control of Central Place Foraging on The Radial Maze
This chapter argues that the behaviors are directly controlled by the stimulus properties of the radial maze and the food items placed on it. It suggests that this stimulus control is based on genetically programmed strategies to respond in particular ways to triggering features of the maze environment. Stimulus control as it has traditionally been studied in the animal learning laboratory has been concerned with specific responses or failures of response of a subject to a particular stimulus presented at a precise point in time and space. Stimulus control is revealed by the behavioral pattern of foraging displayed by the rat over a period of free behavior that may last for several minutes. The stimulus control exerted by the center of the maze can be related to the evolutionary ecology of rats. Wild rats construct burrows with a number of intersecting tunnels or bolt holes that provide alternate escape pathways.