Operant Learning Is Affected by Drugs

According to psychologist B. F. Skinner, behavior that is rewarded or reinforced is more likely to occur again. The family dog soon learns that hanging around the kitchen table brings food. In this example, the food is a reinforcer because it increases the likelihood that the dog will spend time near the kitchen table. Thus, the dog's behavior ''operates'' on the environment to produce an effect. This process is called operant conditioning. The techniques of operant conditioning are used widely to establish new behaviors both in humans as well as in animals. Because behavior that is operantly conditioned is very sensitive and reliable, it is often used to examine drug effects.

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