Rats' lever-press durations as psychophysical judgments of time1
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Hungry rats received food following lever-press durations exceeding a minimum value, which ranged from 0 to 6.4 sec. When no intertrial intervals separated successive presses, modal press durations remained at very short values as the minimum value required for food was increased. This was particularly true immediately after a food presentation. When an 8-sec intertrial interval followed each lever release, modal press durations were always at or beyond the minimum value required for food, and outcome of the preceding press had no effect on press duration. Possible reasons for the effects of intertrial intervals included punishment of short presses, increased delay of reinforcement of short presses, and reduced density of reinforcement. In addition, functions relating discrete-trials lever-press duration to minimum duration required for food were found to be qualitatively and quantitatively similar to the power functions recently proposed by Catania (1970) for interresponse time and response latency. This similarity was taken as support for a general psychophysical law of temporal judgments.
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