Nutrients that modify the speed of internal clock and memory storage processes.
Two experiments assessed the effects of nutrients on timing behavior by rats. The nutrients were laced with saccharin and given to rats as a snack before training on a 20-s peak-interval procedure. The primary component of the snacks for four groups of 10 rats was lecithin (phosphatidylcholine), protein (casein), carbohydrate (sucrose), or a nonnutrient (saccharin). The primary measure of behavior was the time of the rat's highest response rate during a trial (peak time), which represented the interval during which the rat maximally expected food. With a lecithin snack, peak time was gradually shifted over sessions to a shorter time, remained shifted to the left of the normal function with additional testing, and then remained at the shorter time on two sessions after the snack was discontinued; with the protein snack, peak time was abruptly shifted to a shorter time, returned to normal with additional testing, and then rebounded to a longer time when the snack was discontinued; with a carbohydrate, snack peak time was abruptly shifted to a longer time, returned to normal with additional testing, and then rebounded to a shorter time when the snack was discontinued. The behavioral patterns produced by the nutrients were interpreted in terms of precursor effects on central neurotransmitter synthesis and release, psychological stages of an information-processing model, and mathematical parameters of a scalar timing theory.
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