Response decrements in an operant task produced by either extinction or by the dopamine receptor blocker pimozide were examined in three experiments which employed intermittent reinforcement schedules. In contrast to the congruency between these treatments previously observed following continuous reinforcement training, treatment with pimozide was markedly more effective than extinction in decreasing performance after training with variable interval, fixed interval, and fixed ratio reinforcement. The two treatments also produced substantially different patterns of responding. A shift from extinction to pimozide did not alter the progressive decline in response rate over days, but a shift from pimozide to extinction caused a pronounced increase of performance. These results indicate that the pimozide and extinction treatment did not produce functionally equivalent effects, and that the role of dopamine on reward processes should not be inferred from comparisons between pimozide and extinction.

, , ,
Department of Psychology

Tombaugh, T.N. (Tom N.), Anisman, H, & Tombaugh, J. (Jo). (1980). Extinction and dopamine receptor blockade after intermittent reinforcement training: Failure to observe functional equivalence. Psychopharmacologia, 70(1), 19–28. doi:10.1007/BF00432365