Modeling risky decision making in rodents


Excessive risk taking is a hallmark of various psychopathological disorders. We have developed a task that models such risky decision making in rats. In this task, rats are given choices between small, safe rewards and large rewards accompanied by a risk of punishment (footshock). The risk of punishment increases throughout the test session, which allows the quantification of risky decision making at different degrees of risk for each subject. Importantly, this task yields a consistently wide degree of reliable individual variability, allowing the characterization of rats as "risk taking" or "risk averse." This task has been demonstrated to be effective for testing the effects of pharmacological agents on risk taking, and the individual variability (which mimics the human population) allows assessment of neurobiological distinctions between subjects based on risk-taking profile. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Publication Title

Methods in Molecular Biology