Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior






Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.

Publication Date


Journal Article Version

Accepted Manuscript

First Page


Last Page



Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to display restricted, repetitive behaviors and deficits in social interaction. Rats exposed to valproate (VPA) in utero have been shown to model symptoms of ASD. In previous research, VPA rats engaged in less social interaction and more repetitive responding than controls. The purpose of the present study was to further investigate behavioral variability in the VPA rat model of ASD by testing VPA and control rats in a reinforced-behavioral-variability operant task. In this procedure, rats emitted sequences of lever presses, some of which produced food. During baseline, food was delivered probabilistically, and variability was not required. Next, rats were exposed either to a variability contingency, in which food was only delivered following sequences that differed sufficiently from previous sequences (i.e., variability required), or to a yoked contingency, in which variability was not required. We hypothesized that VPA rats would behave less variably than controls in this task. However, VPA and control rats responded similarly variably when variability was required. Furthermore, VPA rats behaved slightly more variably than controls during baseline and yoked conditions, when variability was not required. These findings contribute to the complex literature surrounding the VPA rat model of ASD.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Galizio, A. and Odum, A.L. (2022), Reinforced behavioral variability in the valproate rat model of autism spectrum disorder. Jrnl Exper Analysis Behavior, 117: 576-596., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.