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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