Behavioural responses to unexpected changes in reward quality

Riemer, Stefanie and Thompson, Hannah and Burman, Oliver (2018) Behavioural responses to unexpected changes in reward quality. Scientific Reports, 8 (16652). ISSN 1111-1111

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-35056-5

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Behavioural responses to unexpected changes in reward quality
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Abstract

Successive negative contrast (SNC) effects are changes in anticipatory or consummatory behaviour
when animals unexpectedly receive a lower value reward than they have received previously. SNC
effects are often assumed to reflect frustration and appear to be influenced by background affective
state. However, alternative explanations of SNC, such as the functional-search hypothesis, do not
necessarily imply an aversive affective state. We tested 18 dogs in a SNC paradigm using a patch
foraging task. Dogs were tested in two conditions, once with the low value reward in all of five trials
(unshifted) and once when reward value was altered between high and low (shifted). Following a
reward downshift, subjects showed a SNC effect by switching significantly more often between
patches compared to the unshifted condition. However, approach latency, foraging time and quantity
consumed did not differ between conditions, suggesting non-affective functional search behaviour
rather than frustration. There was no relationship between strength of SNC and anxiety-related
behaviours as measured in a novel object test and a personality questionnaire (C-BARQ). However,
associations with the C-BARQ scores for Trainability and Stranger directed aggression suggest a
possible link with behavioural flexibility and coping style. While reward quality clearly affects incentive
motivation, the relationship between SNC, frustration and background affective state requires further
exploration.

Keywords:Animal Welfare
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:35257
Deposited On:15 Apr 2019 15:35

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