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Front Behav Neurosci. 2014 Jun 11;8:215. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00215. eCollection 2014.

A new approach to assess gambling-like behavior in laboratory rats: using intracranial self-stimulation as a positive reinforcer.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacology, Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL, USA ; Department of Pharmacology, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL, USA.
2
Department of Pharmacology, Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL, USA ; Department of Pharmacology, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL, USA ; Department of Psychiatry, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL, USA.

Abstract

Pathological gambling is one manifestation of impulse control disorders. The biological underpinnings of these disorders remain elusive and treatment is far from ideal. Animal models of impulse control disorders are a critical research tool for understanding this condition and for medication development. Modeling such complex behaviors is daunting, but by its deconstruction, scientists have recapitulated in animals critical aspects of gambling. One aspect of gambling is cost/benefit decision-making wherein one weighs the anticipated costs and expected benefits of a course of action. Risk/reward, delay-based and effort-based decision-making all represent cost/benefit choices. These features are studied in humans and have been translated to animal protocols to measure decision-making processes. Traditionally, the positive reinforcer used in animal studies is food. Here, we describe how intracranial self-stimulation can be used for cost/benefit decision-making tasks and overview our recent studies showing how pharmacological therapies alter these behaviors in laboratory rats. We propose that these models may have value in screening new compounds for the ability to promote and prevent aspects of gambling behavior.

KEYWORDS:

cost/benefit decision-making; discounting; effort-based decision-making; gambling; intracranial self-stimulation

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