Discrete Trial

A discrete trial represents an isolated opportunity for an organism to make a single operant response to a discriminative stimulus. Successive trials are separated by intertrial intervals during which no discriminative stimulus are presented and operant responses are either precluded or are not reinforced.

Thorndike's puzzle box, the Skinner Box, and the T-maze are all apparatuses that can be used for experimental designs involving discrete trials.

An example of a discrete trial procedure can be illustrated with the Skinner Box. When it is inserted into the box, pressing a lever can deliver food to a hungry rat; otherwise, the lever is unavailable and no presses can produce food.


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