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J Exp Anal Behav. 2012 Jul;98(1):65-87. doi: 10.1901/jeab.2012.98-65.

Individual differences in impulsive choice and timing in rats.

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Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-5302, USA.


Individual differences in impulsive choice behavior have been linked to a variety of behavioral problems including substance abuse, smoking, gambling, and poor financial decision-making. Given the potential importance of individual differences in impulsive choice as a predictor of behavioral problems, the present study sought to measure the extent of individual differences in a normal sample of hooded Lister rats. Three experiments utilized variations of a delay discounting task to measure the degree of variation in impulsive choice behavior across individual rats. The individual differences accounted for 22-55% of the variance in choice behavior across the three experiments. In Experiments 2 and 3, the individual differences were still apparent when behavior was measured across multiple choice points. Large individual differences in the rate of responding, and modest individual differences in timing of responding were also observed during occasional peak trials. The individual differences in timing and rate, however, did not correlate consistently with individual differences in choice behavior. This suggests that a variety of factors may affect choice behavior, response rate, and response timing.


choice; delay discounting; impulsive behavior; rats; timing

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