Measuring Cognitive Judgement Bias in Rats Using the Ambiguous‐Cue Interpretation Test

Justyna Papciak1, Rafal Rygula2

1 Currently at School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, 2 Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience and Drug Development, Affective Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Krakow
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Neuroscience
Unit Number:  Unit 9.57
DOI:  10.1002/cpns.19
Online Posting Date:  January, 2017
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Abstract

An active‐choice, operant, ambiguous‐cue interpretation (ACI) paradigm is described that can be used for measuring cognitive judgement bias in rats. In this behavioral test, animals in an operant conditioning chamber are trained to press a lever to receive a food reward when a specific tone is presented, and to press another lever in response to a different tone to avoid punishment by an electric foot‐shock. The tones, which serve as discriminative stimuli, acquire a positive or negative valence, and the training continues until the rats demonstrate a stable, correct discrimination between these two stimuli. The animals are tested after they have attained stable discrimination performance. The ambiguous‐cue test consists of a discrimination task, as described above, but includes the presentation of additional tones with frequencies that are intermediate between the trained positive and negative tones. The lever‐press response pattern to these ambiguous cues is considered an indicator of the rat's expectation of a positive or negative event; in other words, it is a measure of ‘optimism’ or ‘pessimism’, respectively. © 2017 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: rat; ambiguous‐cue interpretation; pessimism; optimism; cognitive judgement bias

     
 
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Table of Contents

  • Reagents And Solutions
  • Commentary
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
  • Tables
     
 
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Materials

Basic Protocol 1:

  Materials
  • Rats: in our laboratory, we routinely use male Sprague‐Dawley rats (Charles River Laboratories; RRID: RGD 734476) that weigh ∼175 to 200 g at the beginning of the experimentation; however, any commercially available or laboratory‐bred rats previously reported to successfully perform lever‐press operant tasks could potentially be used)
  • Standard laboratory rat chow (e.g., Labofeed, Kcynia, Poland)
  • Commercially available sugar [used to prepare a 5% to 20% solution as a reward; see recipe in Reagents and Solutions]
  • Nontoxic mild detergent for cleaning (e.g., 100% Ludwik, Gora Kalwaria, Poland).
  • Water bottles for drinking water (900 ml, from, e.g., Ehret GmbH).
  • Type IV macrolon cages (59 × 38 × 20 cm, from e.g., Ehret GmbH) with metal mesh lids and food hoppers, lined with sawdust bedding (e.g., MIDI LTE E‐002 Abedot, Animalab, Poznan, Poland)
  • Scale for weighing the rats (e.g., Sartorius extend, Goettingen, Germany).
  • Nontoxic, permanent marker pen for tail marking (e.g., Pentel N850)
  • Set of computer‐controlled operant conditioning chambers enclosed in sound‐attenuating cubicles [we use a set of operant conditioning boxes obtained from Med Associates (cat. no. ENV‐008CT) constructed with a white polypropylene base; Perspex polycarbonate roof, door and rear panel; and two other walls with six (three per wall) sturdy aluminum channels that are designed to securely hold modular components; these modular walls consist of three equally sized lanes of panels that can be replaced with components with various sizes as required (1/2, 1/3, 1/4 of the wall length)]
    • Dimensions:
    • Base: 53.3 cm × 34.9 cm × 1.3 cm
    • Interior: 30.5 cm × 24.1 cm × 21.0 cm
    • Exterior: 31.8 cm × 25.4 cm × 26.7 cm
    • Channels: 6 channels (3 per wall; 7.62 cm each)
    • The modular components include the following: a house light (ENV‐215M, 28 V DC, 100 mA bulb) mounted on a 1/8 size modular panel (dimensions: 7.6 cm × 4.1 cm) with a partially open hood that should be rotated in the test chamber to reflect light off of the ceiling; a speaker (ENV‐224AM) mounted on a 1/4 size modular panel (dimensions: 7.6 cm × 8.3 cm) used with a programmable audio generator (ANL‐926) installed into the interface cabinet for each test chamber in the system (dimensions: 2.2 cm × 13.3 cm × 18.4 cm) able to generate pure tones at frequencies of 10 to 35000 Hz in 1‐Hz increments and amplitudes of 20 to 100 dB in 0.5 dB increments; a liquid dipper with a dual pellet/dipper receptacle (ENV‐202RM) mounted on a 1/2 size rat modular panel (dimensions: 7.6 cm × 16.5 cm, access opening: 5.1 cm × 5.1 cm) with a motor‐driven dipper arm that raises a precise 0.01‐cc stainless steel cup to deliver liquids that range from water to highly viscous fluids (such as a sucrose solution or condensed milk); 2 retractable stainless steel response levers (ENV‐112CM, dimensions: 4.8 cm × 1.9 cm) supplied on a 1/4 size rat modular panels (dimensions: 7.6 cm × 8.3 cm), with a 1.9‐cm lever protrusion and an adjustable tension from 15 to 100 g; and metal panels used to fill the remaining gaps in the walls. The location of all modules is shown in Figure . Each box is equipped with a stainless steel grid floor (ENV‐412, 2.2 cm × 13.3 cm × 18.4 cm) connected to a programmable shocker (ENV‐413, Computer Controlled Constant Current Aversive Stimulation Module) that can deliver scrambled electric shocks (0 to 10 mA) and a removable waste pan positioned underneath. The operant chambers are enclosed inside fan‐ventilated, sound‐attenuated cubicles (ENV‐018MD) that are manufactured using Multi Density Fiberboard (MDF), a high‐density wood composite with thermally infused high‐pressure laminate inside and out. The viewing port in the box's door allows for the researcher to observe the animal inside the cubicle without opening the door.
    • Dimensions:
    • Interior: 92.7 cm × 55.9 cm × 35.6 cm
    • Exterior: 100.3 cm × 59.7 cm × 39.4 cm
    • Walls: 1.9 cm thick
    • Controlling hardware:
    • A large tabletop cabinet and power supply with 28 V (SG‐6510D, 230 V, 50 Hz) is used to interface the input (e.g., tones or reward delivery) and the output (e.g., animal lever responses) of the operant chambers to a personal computer. The cabinet dimensions are 48.3 cm × 38.1 cm × 15.3 cm, and the cabinet has seventeen single‐width panels, with one slot reserved for the decode card (DIG‐700G).
    • An additional cabinet (SG‐6010, Rack Mount Interface Chassis, 120 V, 60 Hz) is used to house the shockers (ENV‐413); this cabinet contains seventeen individual single‐width slots that are used with the interface components that do not require 28 V, such as the programmable shock source (ENV‐413), scramblers (ENV‐414), or audio generators (ANL‐926)
    • A PCI network control (DIG‐729PCI, PCI High‐Speed Serial Microcontroller) is used to control the aversive stimulation delivery modules
    • Cables:
    • DB‐15 control cable(s) that are 15 feet (SG‐219C‐15) and 12 feet (SG‐219D) and shock output cable(s) that are 10 feet (SG‐219C‐10) are required for the computer‐controlled constant current aversive stimulator(s) (ENV‐413)
    • Personal computer:
    • A PC compatible with operant control software (e.g., MEDState notation code) and a PCI‐interfaced connection package (DIG‐700P2‐R2) that connects the tabletop interface cabinet (SG‐6510DA) to the operating system are required; this package includes the following: a PCI Interface Card (DIG‐704PCI‐2), a Decode Card (DIG‐700G), an Interface Ribbon Cable (DIG‐700C), and a main power cable (SG‐210CP‐2)
  • Programming software: MEDState notation code (MedAssociates) to program the behavioral protocols, control chambers, data processing and acquisition
  • Glass beaker (600 ml) for the preparation of the sucrose solution
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., face mask, laboratory coat, boots etc.)
  • Laboratory notebook (for manual recording of the experimental details)
  • Data handling software (e.g., Microsoft Excel, GraphPad Prism; RRID: SCR 002798)
  • Data analysis software (e.g., SPSS; RRID:SCR 002865)
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Figures

Videos

Literature Cited

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