Differences in temporal aspects of food acquisition between rats and two strains of mice in a closed operant economy

Neil E. Rowland, Dulce M. Minaya, Melissa R. Cervantez, Vanessa Minervini, Kimberly L. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Rats and mice were studied for changes in meal-taking structure in a closed operant food economy, in which the consummatory or unit prices for food were increased. In experiment 1, as food price increased, male rats modestly decreased the number of meals per day and increased mean meal size. Female rats were similar to males but had smaller meal size and, at low costs, took more meals per day. In experiment 2, male and female B6 mice reduced food intake as price increased, accompanied by decreased meal number without change in meal size. They showed grazing-like behavior in the first part of the night. In contrast, we report in experiment 3, a large increase in intake and meal size during the final trimester of pregnancy. In experiment 4, we report that CD1 male mice subjected to a unit price series performed comparably to rats, and not like B6 mice. Other CD1 mice were tested using an interval schedule, and we found that mice were able to adapt eating patterns to greatly increased time demands without compromising total intake. Data are discussed in terms of the intercalation of food acquisition with global patterns of activity. Such interactions of organism and food environment are in particular need of mechanistic investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R93-R108
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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