Date of Award

Summer 1970

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ivanoff, John

Second Advisor

Houston, Arthur

Third Advisor

Tagatz, Glenn


The origin of this study was in a living room. One day I was watching my wife feed our pet goldfish in a bowl on the mantle. I noted how they anticipated being fed, and had learned to come to the top to feed when approached. On subsequent days I went to the bowl and simulated feeding by rubbing my fingers together about six inches above the surface of the water. The responses of the fish were nearly identical to the feeding behavior, or consummatory activity previously observed when food actually was presented. It was apparent that the fish had learned to modify their eating behavior, most probably through the process of classical conditioning. These observations served as the nucleus for my study. I wondered. A relationship (association) had been established between the conditioned stimulus (CS) and food (UCS); a response (CR) resembling the one originally made to food (UCR) was now made to antecedent stimuli. I knew from previous understanding of the extinction process, that if the feeding procedure was repeated without food, after many trials the fish would become less and less responsive, and probably, finally unresponsive to the procedure. The fish would be expending energy by visibly performing the consummatory activity during the extinction process. To what extent, if at all, could life processes be maintained by the conditioned stimulus? Could starving fish (deprived of the UCS) repeatedly presented with the CS and expending energy in the performance of associative behavior (CR), outlive UCS deprived fish not presented the CS and not expending energy performing associative behavior (CR), or would they live a shorter period of time? It was the general purpose of this study to explore such a psychophysiological (CS-UCS) association's effect over a "life-time," on one phylogenetic level. More specifically, this investigation seeks to research the effect of a secondary reinforcer (CS) on the longevity of Zebra fish. Library review failed to uncover documentation of research directed toward the extended, long term effects of a secondary reinforcer upon physiological processes. Consequently it became evident that more definitive studies have yet to be realized. Prior experimentation, classical conditioning, the nature and properties of the conditioned stimulus, primary and secondary reinforcers and reinforcement were intensively reviewed. This work covers research articles, texts, and literature reasonably comprehensively up to 1970. Experimental efforts on this particular problem commenced in the spring of 1968 .



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