Thermal Reinforcement and Temperature Regulation

  • Harry J. Carlisle


Studies of operant conditioning typically have used food as a reinforcer for hungry animals and water for thirsty ones, and similarly, physiologic studies of behavioral regulation have dealt almost exclusively with the control of food and water intake. This emphasis on ingestive reinforcers attests to the fundamental importance of food and water. Temperature, on the other hand, is a variable that has received very little attention in behavioral studies although it is no less basic to life processes than food or water. Nonhibernating mammals maintain an internal body temperature within the very narrow range of a few degrees Celsius in spite of the variation of environmental temperature over a one hundred degree range. Numerous physiologic responses that contribute to thermal equilibrium have been described, including vasomotor, respiratory, and metabolic adjustments, as well as sweating, shivering, and piloerection. A second major class of variables contributes also to thermal balance: the behavioral responses of the animal. These responses are especially important in avoiding the extremes of a hostile thermal environment. This chapter summarizes some attempts to examine behavioral and physiological interactions in temperature regulation.


Radiant Heat Squirrel Monkey Burst Duration Heat Intake Heat Lamp 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry J. Carlisle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California at Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

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