Pro-social preference in an automated operant two-choice reward task under different housing conditions: Exploratory studies on pro-social decision making

Jiska Kentrop, Aikaterini Kalamari, Chiara Hinna Danesi, John J. Kentrop, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marian Joels, Rixt van der Veen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Abstract

    In this study, we aimed to develop a behavioral task that measures pro-social decision making in rats. A fully automated, operant pro-social two-choice task is introduced that quantifies pro-social preferences for a mutual food reward in a set-up with tightly controlled task contingencies. Pairs of same-sex adult Wistar rats were placed in an operant chamber divided into two compartments (one rat per compartment), separated by a transparent barrier with holes that allowed the rats to see, hear, smell, but not touch each other. Test rats could earn a sucrose pellet either for themselves (own reward) or for themselves and the partner (both reward) by means of lever pressing. On average, male rats showed a 60 % preference for the lever that yielded a food reward for both themselves and their partner. In contrast, females did not show lever preference, regardless of the estrous cycle phase. Next, the impact of juvenile environmental factors on male rat social decision making was studied. Males were group-housed from postnatal day 26 onwards in complex housing Marlau (TM) cages that provided social and physical enrichment and stimulation in the form of novelty. Complex housed males did not show a preference for the pro-social lever.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number100827
    Number of pages11
    JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
    Volume45
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct-2020

    Keywords

    • Rats
    • Complex housing
    • Pro-social decision making
    • Two-choice operant task
    • Food reward
    • Social development
    • ULTRASONIC VOCALIZATIONS
    • DOPAMINE RELEASE
    • PROSOCIAL CHOICE
    • VAGINAL CYTOLOGY
    • ESTROUS-CYCLE
    • BEHAVIOR
    • EMPATHY
    • RATS
    • BRAIN
    • ADOLESCENCE

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