It seems that the scientists here are trying a form of operant conditioning. Thorndike originally studied conditioning in cats, but the more famous experiments were Skinner’s studies with rats. It’s important to note that there are probably better ways of improving task performance than punishment. Modifying the study to positive or negative reinforcement would have probably given better results.
Caption: 15 cat years ago...
Scientist 1: Experiment number 72. Subject 1314-C will sort these blocks according to size. Shock incentives will be used.
Scientist 1: He dropped that on purpose. He needs an incentive.
Scientist 2: Commencing shock.
Scientist 1: TURN IT OFF!
Scientist 2: I CAN'T!