In their recent review of instrumental conditioning of autonomic functions, E. S. Katkin and E. N. Murray (see 42: criticized most of the existing studies on the human level as artifactual on 1 or more grounds. The criteria they employed for rejecting these demonstrations are themselves open to criticism, however. Specifically, it is argued that (1) peripheral or cognitive mediation hypotheses are unlikely alternative explanations of the obtained results; (2) an increase in response frequency over a preconditioning operant level is not a necessary condition for demonstrating an increase in response probability with contingent reinforcement; and (3) yoked-control designs, frequently used in this research, do not automatically invalidate experiments in which they are employed. It is concluded that the strongest hypothesis to account for the existing data remains the direct instrumental strengthening of autonomic activity. (35 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
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