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Physiol Behav. 2012 Feb 1;105(3):676-82. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.09.019. Epub 2011 Oct 1.

Behavioural and physiological correlates of impulsivity in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris).

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  • 1Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lincoln, Riseholme Park, Lincoln, LN2 2LG, UK.


Impulsivity is a trait related to inhibitory control which is expressed in a range of behaviours. Impulsive individuals show a decreased ability to tolerate delay of reinforcement, and more impulsive behaviour has been linked to decreased levels of serotonin and dopamine in a number of species. In domestic dogs, impulsivity is implicated in problem behaviours that result from a lack of self control, but currently there are no published studies that assess behavioural and physiological measures of impulsivity in relation to this trait. Impulsivity scores were calculated for 41 dogs using an owner-report assessment, the Dog Impulsivity Assessment Scale (DIAS). Twenty-three of these subjects completed an operant choice task based on a delayed reward paradigm, to assess their tolerance to delay of reinforcement. High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) with Fluorometric Detection was used to detect levels of the metabolites of serotonin (5-HIAA) and dopamine (HVA) in the urine of 17 of the subjects. Higher impulsivity scores were found to be significantly correlated with more impulsive behaviour (reduced tolerance to delay of reinforcement) in the behaviour tests and lower levels of urinary 5-HIAA and 5-HIAA/HVA ratio. The results demonstrate convergent validity between impulsivity (as assessed by the DIAS) and behavioural and physiological parameters.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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