Effects of multiple delayed rewards on delay discounting in an adjusting amount procedure

Suzanne H. Mitchell, Abigail J. Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

It has been suggested that when the delivery of several rewards is separated in time, e.g. one reward immediately and a second reward a few moments later, the value of an alternative that includes these "bundled" rewards will be the sum of the hyperbolic discount functions of the individual rewards. The current study examined this hypothesis using an adjusting amount procedure. In this procedure, rats chose between a delayed food alternative and an immediate food alternative, where the amount of immediate food altered according to each rat's choices. The size of the immediate reward when rats were indifferent between the delayed and immediate alternatives indexed the value of the delayed alternative. Discount functions describing the relationship between the indifference points and the delay to food were created for conditions in which the delay alternative consisted of a single reward (150μl of sucrose solution) delayed by 0, 2, 4, 8, or 16s following the reinforced response. These functions were used to predict the indifference points in other conditions for which an additional 150μl of sucrose solution was delivered at 0, 4, 8, or 16s following the reinforced response. The model fit the data well. However, there were systematic deviations that suggested animals were sensitive to the context within which delays were presented, in addition to the delays themselves. That is, preference for the delayed alternative was lower than predicted when the delay to the additional reward was long (8 or 16s) and higher than the predicted values when it was short (0 or 4s).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-286
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioural Processes
Volume64
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 31 2003

Keywords

  • Choice
  • Delay discounting
  • Lever press
  • Multiple rewards
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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