Assessing Delay Discounting in Mice

Suzanne H. Mitchell1

1 Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Neuroscience
Unit Number:  Unit 8.30
DOI:  10.1002/0471142301.ns0830s66
Online Posting Date:  January, 2014
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Abstract

Delay discounting (also intertemporal choice or impulsive choice) is the process by which delayed outcomes, such as delayed food delivery, are valued less than the same outcomes delivered immediately or with a shorter delay. This process is of interest because many psychopathologies, including substance dependence, pathological gambling, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and conduct disorder, are characterized by heightened levels of delay discounting. Some of these disorders are heritable, and data indicate that delay discounting also has a genetic component. To identify the genes underlying the delay discounting decision‐making process and genetic correlates of heightened discounting, researchers have used mouse models. This unit describes a protocol for generating delay discounting behavior in mice and discusses analysis techniques for such behavior. Curr. Protoc. Neurosci. 66:8.30.1‐8.30.12. © 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: intertemporal choice; impulsive choice; decision‐making; subjective value; indifference point; hyperbolic; mouse behavior

     
 
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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Basic Protocol 1: Adjusting Amount Procedure
  • Support Protocol 1: Operant Test Chamber Configuration
  • Support Protocol 2: Software Program Configuration
  • Commentary
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
  • Tables
     
 
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Materials

Basic Protocol 1: Adjusting Amount Procedure

  Materials
  • Mice, e.g., C57BL/6J from Jackson Laboratories or any other mouse of interest, aged ∼6 weeks on arrival
  • Mouse chow
  • Sucrose solution, e.g., 10% w/v made using store‐bought granulated sugar and tap water
  • Animal housing cages
  • Animal and supplemental food weighing scale
  • Operant test chambers (see protocol 2)
  • Med Associates syringe pumps (motor speed = 3.33 rpm), each containing a syringe (e.g., 10 ml) connected by polyethylene tubes to the liquid food cups of each operant test chamber
  • Med Associates behavioral software (Trans‐IV and Med‐PC version IV) to control the operant test chambers
  • Desktop computer with MS Windows XP
  • Microsoft Excel with Solver Add‐in for data analysis

Support Protocol 1: Operant Test Chamber Configuration

  Materials
  • Operant test chambers (commercially available, e.g., Med Associates): 15.9 × 14.0 × 12.7 cm (each chamber contains three recesses with head entry detectors and liquid food cups, three yellow LED stimulus lights, clicker module, house light; each chamber should be housed in a ventilated, light‐ and sound‐attenuating cabinet)
  • Med Associates syringe pumps (motor speed = 3.33 rpm), each containing a syringe (e.g., 10 ml) connected by polyethylene tubes to the liquid food cups of each operant test chamber

Support Protocol 2: Software Program Configuration

  Materials
  • Trans‐IV Program; (Med Associates)
  • Med‐PC IV Program (Med Associates)
  • Desktop computer with MS Windows XP
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Figures

Videos

Literature Cited

Literature Cited
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   Mitchell, S.H. , McCracken, A.D. , Gubner, N.R. , Wilhelm, C.J. , and Phillips, T.J. (in prep.) Genetic Differences in Delay Discounting in Inbred Mouse Strains.
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   Wilhelm, C.J. and Mitchell, S.H. 2010. Bias is unaffected by delay length in a delay discounting paradigm. Behav. Proc. 84:445‐49.
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