Housing conditions affect rat responses to two types of ambiguity in a reward-reward discrimination cognitive bias task

Parker, R. M. A., Paul, E. S., Burman, O. H. P., Browne, W. J. and Mendl, M. (2014) Housing conditions affect rat responses to two types of ambiguity in a reward-reward discrimination cognitive bias task. Behavioural Brain Research, 274 . pp. 73-83. ISSN 0166-4328

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2014.07.048

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Decision-making under ambiguity in cognitive bias tasks is a promising new indicator of affective valence in animals. Rat studies support the hypothesis that animals in a negative affective state evaluate ambiguous cues negatively. Prior automated operant go/go judgement bias tasks have involved training rats that an auditory cue of one frequency predicts a Reward and a cue of a different frequency predicts a Punisher (RP task), and then measuring whether ambiguous cues of intermediate frequency are judged as predicting reward ('optimism') or punishment ('pessimism'). We investigated whether an automated Reward-Reward (RR) task yielded similar results to, and was faster to train than, RP tasks. We also introduced a new ambiguity test (simultaneous presentation of the two training cues) alongside the standard single ambiguous cue test. Half of the rats experienced an unpredictable housing treatment (UHT) designed to induce a negative state. Control rats were relatively 'pessimistic', whilst UHT rats were quicker, but no less accurate, in their responses in the RR test, and showed less anxiety-like behaviour in independent tests. A possible reason for these findings is that rats adapted to and were stimulated by UHT, whilst control rats in a predictable environment were more sensitive to novelty and change. Responses in the new ambiguity test correlated positively with those in single ambiguous cue tests, and may provide a measure of attention bias. The RR task was quicker to train than previous automated RP tasks. Together, they could be used to disentangle how reward and punishment processes underpin affect-induced cognitive biases. © 2014 The Authors.

Additional Information:Open Access funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Keywords:oaopen, oapaid, Affect, Emotion, Rat, Pessimism, Cognitive bias, Decision-making, JCOpen
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:14797
Deposited On:18 Sep 2014 19:47

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