Suppose you make a rat run through a maze to find it's food. Every day, you put the rat into the same maze. The first few times this rat has to run the maze, it will probably take a little while to figure out. After doing it several times, the rat will find a path through the maze and stick to it; he'll make a habit out of each turn, and become an expert in his path, finding the food quickly every day.

I'm wondering: has anyone ever performed a study quantifying rat-maze complexity in terms of the number of decisions (left, right, or straight), and then measuring the number of daily maze-traversals required before the rat habituates a path through the maze for his food?

Does the number of traversals required to habituate a path increase linearly with the number of decision-points in the maze, or is there a curve in the relationship between traversals and decision-points?

Is there an upper-bounds on complexity, where the rat will no longer be able to habituate a path?

The reason I ask is first of all just to learn about animal psychology, but also to provide myself with an organic baseline for path-finding and path-normalization algorithms I'm writing into some code for a programming project.

ETA: Also, if you cite a study, please link me to it. Google knows I like code, and won't give me anything but programmer links when I google rat-maze stuff. I don't know what to search for to find actual rat studies.



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