Mice were trained to push levers to get either of two rewards. Press one lever, out comes a drop of sugar water. Press the other and they get a drop of different tasting sugar water.
Then things got interesting. For one of the treats, scientists gradually increased the amount of effort required for the payoff—from one lever-press to five, then 10, then 15. So by the end of the session, one type of sugar water cost 15 times more effort than the other.
The mice then retired to their home cage where both treats were freely available. And they showed a strong preference for whichever reward they’d worked harder to obtain. Based on how fast the mice sipped, they appeared to find the costlier sugar water more tasty.
Link | Photo by Flickr user Steve Berger Photography used under Creative Commons license