Sciences and Mathematics, College of
Psychological Science, Department of
BURS Faculty Advisor
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many into social isolation, causing numerous cognitive difficulties. One such mental difficulty may be patience. Patience is defined as the ability to accept and tolerate delay. The current study aims to study the effects of isolation on patience utilizing rodent subjects. To study patience in rats, we used an operant chamber, where rats learn to press a lever for food. One specific type of operant training is differential reinforcement of low rates (DRL), where positive reinforcement is delivered after performing a behavior slowly and methodically. Therefore, we studied the effects of social isolation on DRL learning. To do so, a group of eight adult male rats were trained to press a lever in order to receive a pellet of food. Rats were then split: four remained housed together (socially), while four were housed in isolation. After isolation, DRL schedule training began. Rats were tested for three weeks on an increasing DRL schedule, in which the amount of time rats were required to wait before lever pressing after each reward was progressively increased to teach waiting and patience. The DRL schedule started at 3-second waits and progressed step-wise to 19 second-waits. Overall, we hypothesized that socially-housed rats would outperform isolated rats by advancing quicker through DRL training, suggesting the social environment is important for being able to learn patience. Overall, the findings of the current study will hopefully be able to generalize to better understand the effects of social isolation.
Biebel, Paige; Boegel, Sarah; Fontenot, Aaron; Frazier, Emma; Jensen, Madison; Malone, Annalie; Nicastro, Gabrielle; Turner, Holland; and Schoenfeld, Timothy, "Effects of Social Isolation on Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates Operant Learning" (2022). Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS). 108.