Thursday, November 25, 2010

Some days you're Brain, and other days you're Pinky

I once heard about a lab rat test that was being conducted to determine the ratio of reward to no reward which would cause in this case a lab rat to stop trying. For instance, a lab rat will learn rather quickly at the ratio of 1:1, every time they push a lever they get a treat. As you increase the number of lever pushes to times you actually get a treat there is some point where the lab rat decides he'd be better off planning world domination.

So far the study makes sense, it pretty much confirms what we'd like to think we already knew... But the interesting question that came out of it, was at what point will they keep pushing even *after* they've stopped getting rewards completely.

Well for the 1:1, they basically try it a few more times... effectively shrug and then carry on with whatever catches their fancy. But the lab rats that were pushing the lever and increased number of times for even one single treat, will continue pushing the lever long past when they should have given up and moved on.

I'm having a lab rat day. I've been refreshing my email, and sometimes it comes up and sometimes it times out... but I keep trying.S