Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Dr. L.E. Roberts


Punishment training was carried out in the three experiments in an attempt to operantly condition heart rate in the paralyzed rat. A fourth experiment compared the effect of two paralyzing agents, d-tubocurarine and succinylcholine, on cardiovascular and electrodermal responding in an attempt to improve the paralyzed preparation. Reliable bidirectional differences in heart rate were produced in two of the learning experiments, one using d-tubocurarine and the other employing succinylcholine as the paralyzing agent. In a third experiment, rats paralyzed with succinylcholine failed to display bidirectional differences in heart rate by the end of conditioning. The bidirectional changes that were produced were specific to the cardiac response. Skin-potential responding was not systematically affected by punishment training. Alternative interpretations other than operant conditioning are considered and the current status of operant conditioning of autonomic responses under curare is evaluated.

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