Differential reinforcement of low rate (DRL) responding is a schedule-controlled behavior sometimes used in timing research, but also received critics of not providing a pure measure of timing due to the influence of the subject’s motivation or inhibitory control. Nevertheless, we argue that the DRL task provides a unique approach to study how timing and emotion interact with each other. Here, we review evidence showing that male rats prenatally treated with choline supplementation had difficulty in acquiring longer criterion times in the DRL task. This was possibly due to the stronger memory strength of their previously learned shorter criterion times. Female rats, in contrast, performed better than male rats in the same task, but those receiving prenatal choline supplementation were the best performers in this task with longer criterion times because they required less training. Like all female rats, male rats treated with prenatal choline supplementation made very few burst responses, suggesting that the treatment improved male rats’ emotional regulation when facing ‘frustrating’ outcomes. The differential impulse control plus different memory strength of the rats trained in the DRL task revealed the potential interaction of sex hormones and prenatal choline supplementation, a rare combination in a single animal study on timing and time perception. In summary, although the DRL task is certainly not the best timing task, it may be useful in assisting us in better understanding how time perception participates in emotional regulation, especially relevant when the emotion is triggered by a failure in timing.
Male Sprague–Dawley rats were exposed to social defeat and subordination by aggressive male Long–Evans rats. The social defeat procedure involved the continuous exposure to an aggressive resident for 10 days, while living in a protective cage within the resident’s home cage with daily brief confrontations. These stress experiences resulted in 1) reduced body weight; 2) decreased social interaction; 3) increased ultrasonic vocalizations; 4) reduced sucrose preference (anhedonia); and 5) decreased clock speed while timing 15-s and 45-s target durations in a bi-peak procedure. Treatment with ketamine (15 mg/kg, i.p.) produced a rapid reversal of anhedonia and overproduction of duration. Taken together, these data provide the first evaluation of the effects of continuous social defeat and its associated depression-like symptoms on timing and time perception using a ‘state change’ design.
Although fear-producing treatments (e.g., electric shock) and pleasure-inducing treatments (e.g., methamphetamine) have different emotional valences, they both produce physiological arousal and lead to effects on timing and time perception that have been interpreted as reflecting an increase in speed of an internal clock. In this commentary, we review the results reported by : Behav. Process., 120, 135–140) and using electric shock and by using methamphetamine in a duration-bisection procedure across multiple duration ranges. The psychometric functions obtained from this procedure relate the proportion ‘long’ responses to signal durations spaced between a pair of ‘short’ and ‘long’ anchor durations. Horizontal shifts in these functions can be described in terms of attention or arousal processes depending upon whether they are a fixed number of seconds independent of the timed durations (additive) or proportional to the durations being timed (multiplicative). Multiplicative effects are thought to result from a change in clock speed that is regulated by dopamine activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. These dopaminergic effects are discussed within the context of the striatal beat frequency model of interval timing (: Cogn. Brain Res., 21, 139–170) and clinical implications for the effects of emotional reactivity on temporal cognition (: Front. Integr. Neurosci., 7, 75).