It may be argued that psychological relativity contributes substantially to the variance in human behavior. That is, the response to day to day events such as the work environment, salary, interpersonal interactions, etc., is influenced not only by the characteristics of these events themselves, but also by an individual's expectancies. Thus, of two individuals exposed to the same event, one could be disappointed and the other elated because of differential expectancies that they brought to the situation. Disappointment may have physiological as well as psychological effects and major or repeated disappointment may lead to psychological or physical disorder. One form of relativity, incentive relativity, may be readily studied in animals and, in fact, a substantial amount is known about the behavioral principles governing such relativity. This proposal is concerned with the further investigation of an incentive relativity procedure in which rats are shifted from preferred to less preferred sucrose solutions. Rats with prior experience with a 32% sucrose solution will consume less of a 4% solution than animals that have experienced only the 4% solution. We have previously shown that this contrast effect is reduced by anxiolytic drugs, under specific conditions, and eliminated by lesions of the corticomedial area of the amygdala. Some of the research proposed here is concerned with estimating the degree of stress imposed by such a reward shift by assaying corticosterone responses over time in animals that are exposed to a variety of different reward shifts under different experimental conditions (nine experiments). Other experiments are concerned with the involvement of exogenous and endogenous opiates in recovery from reward loss. These studies will involve injection of opiate agonists and antagonists, sometimes in combination with benzodiazepine tranquilizers (four experiments). Another set of experiments is concerned with the function of the corticomedial aspect of the amygdala in the occurrence of contrast. These experiments will involve focal infusion into the amygdala of substances that have been shown to have effects when administered systemically. A final set of experiments is concerned with further defining the time course of contrast following a downshift in reward. All these studies are concerned with the long term goal of understanding incentive relativity in all of its psychological and physiological ramifications.

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Rutgers University
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Rowan, G A; Flaherty, C F (1991) Behavior of Maudsley reactive and nonreactive rats (Rattus norvegicus) in three consummatory contrast paradigms. J Comp Psychol 105:115-24
Flaherty, C F; Grigson, P S; Demetrikopoulos, M K et al. (1990) Effect of serotonergic drugs on negative contrast in consummatory behavior. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 36:799-806
Flaherty, C F (1990) Effect of anxiolytics and antidepressants on extinction and negative contrast. Pharmacol Ther 46:309-20
Flaherty, C F; Grigson, P S; Lind, S (1990) Chlordiazepoxide and the moderation of the initial response to reward reduction. Q J Exp Psychol B 42:87-105
Flaherty, C F; Grigson, P S (1989) Effect of clonidine on sucrose intake and water intake varies as a function of dose, deprivation state, and duration of exposure. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 32:383-9
Flaherty, C F; Rowan, G A; Emerich, D F et al. (1989) Effects of intrahippocampal administration of colchicine on incentive contrast and on radial maze performance. Behav Neurosci 103:319-28
Flaherty, C F; Rowan, G A (1989) Negative contrast in the consumption of sucrose and quinine adulterated sucrose solutions. J Am Coll Nutr 8:47-55
Flaherty, C F; Rowan, G A (1989) Rats (Rattus norvegicus) selectively bred to differ in avoidance behavior also differ in response to novelty stress, in glycemic conditioning, and in reward contrast. Behav Neural Biol 51:145-64
Meinrath, A B; Flaherty, C F (1988) Effect of varied taste experience on negative contrast in consummatory behavior. Am J Psychol 101:87-96
Flaherty, C F; Grigson, P S (1988) From contrast to reinforcement: role of response contingency in anticipatory contrast. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 14:165-76

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