Interval Timing Procedures

Temporal perception and timed performance procedures consist of a specification of the conditions under which a discrete stimulus (such as a light or noise) will be turned on or off, and a specification of the conditions under which a reinforcer (such as a pellet of food) will be delivered. The procedures within the domain of a timing theory include those with zero, one, or more than one stimulus, and with zero, one, or more than one response contingency for reinforcement. All of these procedures are also in the domain of conditioning theories. They include many procedures from classical conditioning (zero response contingencies), operant conditioning (one response contingency), and choice (more than one response contingency).

Standard interval timing procedures include Pavlovian temporal conditioning in which reinforcement occurs at fixed times (zero stimuli and zero response contingencies), discrete trial fixed-interval (FI) schedules of reinforcement in which food occurs following the first response after a fixed time after stimulus onset (one stimulus and one response contingency), and temporal discrimination in which reinforcement follows one response after one of the stimuli and another response after the other stimulus (two stimuli and two response contingencies). The raw data from experiments in timing and conditioning are the times of the onset and termination of each stimulus, reinforcer, and response. The goal of the theory is to describe the times of the responses based on the specification of the procedure (and some fitted parameters).

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