Effects of chlordiazepoxide on the overtraining extinction effect using a discrete-trial, duration lever-press
Spencer, Anne J.
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The overtraining extinction effect (OEE) refers to the nonmonotonic relationship between the amount of acquisition training and resistance to extinction, such that resistance to extinction initially increases with increases in training and then decreases with further training. Interpreted in terms of frustration theory as described by A. Amsel in 1962, increased training serves to increase the anticipation of reward which leads to greater levels of frustration when reward is withheld during extinction. Anticipation of frustration is assumed to produce competing responses that disrupt the index response. Greater amounts of frustration lead to a reduction in resistance to extinction. In order to test the frustration interpretation of the OEE, it was hypothesized that the administration of chlordiazepoxide during extinction testing would reduce the frustration and eliminate the OEE. Rats received either 360 or 720 discrete trials of lever-press training with a press duration requirement of 1.5 s prior to a single extinction session of 180 trials. Different groups (ns=8) received either drug or no drug during acquisition training and drug or no drug during extinction testing. All subjects received 30 training trials per day. Maximum trial times were 20 s with an intertrial interval of 60 s. Analysis of the extinction data revealed a significant Trials x Amount-of-Training x Drug-in- Acquisition interaction on all measures. Resistance to extinction was inversely related to the amount of training for subjects not receiving the drug during acquisition, thus demonstrating an OEE. Administration of the drug during acquisition eliminated the OEE. Failure to meet the duration requirement during training presumably resulted in the emotional response of frustration. Subjects not receiving the drug during acquisition learned to approach the lever in the presence of frustration-eliciting cues. For subjects receiving the drug during acquisition, the experience of frustration was eliminated. During extinction, the prior experience with frustration served to increase resistance to extinction of subjects not receiving the drug during acquisition. Failure to find a significant effect of drug in extinction as originally hypothesized may have been methodological. The findings were interpreted as further support for the frustration interpretation of the OEE.