Multiple operants have been used to assess the effects of drugs on self-stimulation. It has typically been assumed that changing the operant used to obtain brain stimulation represents a simple performance manipulation. However, the validity of this assumption has been challenged by several research findings. The present study sought to clarify the role of response topography and slight differences in electrode placement on operant-induced shifts in self-stimulation thresholds and response rates. Thresholds and rates were determined for three operants (leverpressing, nosepoking and omnidirectional leverpressing) using two bilaterally placed electrodes. In addition, the response topographies used to perform each operant were evaluated. It was found that the relationship between the thresholds and rates produced by the operants was more dependent on the electrode placement than operant or subject-specific factors. The results of this experiment suggest that the characteristics of the stimulation site determine the relationship among different operants. This finding may be due to differences in the reward substrate or stimulation-induced behaviors activated at various brain loci. © 1987.
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