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Operant conditioning in Goldfish

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Uploaded on Mar 8, 2009

This is a demonstration of operant conditioning in the goldfish. We use a device called the Fish Stick (PetSci LLC) which presents discriminative stimuli in the form of light or vibration. The reinforcement for hitting the nipple is food. The Fish Stick is useful for demonstrating basic principles of operant conditioning including shaping, extinction, spontaneous recovery, and schedule effects. More complex behavior can also be studied including reversal learning and compound conditioning.

The video clip shows a brief sample of the shaping technique followed by a simple discrimination experiment in which a light serves as a feeding cue. When the light is off no food can be obtained. After a few experiences the fish learns to readily bump the nipple when the light is on and to turn away when it is off.

A device such as that presented here can easily be used for student projects and classroom use related to operant conditioning and comparative psychology.

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