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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2019 Aug;236(8):2389-2403. doi: 10.1007/s00213-019-05333-w. Epub 2019 Aug 3.

Sensitivity to negative and positive feedback as a stable and enduring behavioural trait in rats.

Author information

1
Affective Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Pharmacology, Maj Institute of Pharmacology Polish Academy of Sciences, 12 Smetna Street, 31-343, Krakow, Poland.
2
Department of Molecular Neuropharmacology, Maj Institute of Pharmacology Polish Academy of Sciences, 12 Smetna Street, 31-343, Krakow, Poland.
3
Affective Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Pharmacology, Maj Institute of Pharmacology Polish Academy of Sciences, 12 Smetna Street, 31-343, Krakow, Poland. rygula@gmail.com.

Abstract

RATIONALE:

According to psychological theories, cognitive distortions play a pivotal role in the aetiology and recurrence of mood disorders. Although clinical evidence for the coexistence of depression and altered sensitivity to performance feedback is relatively coherent, we still do not know whether increased or decreased sensitivity to positive or negative feedback is associated with 'pro-depressive' profile in healthy subjects.

OBJECTIVE:

Our research has been designed to answer this question, and here, we present the first steps in that direction.

METHODS:

Using a rat version of the probabilistic reversal-learning (PRL) paradigm, we evaluated how sensitivity to negative and positive feedback influences other cognitive processes associated with mood disorders, such as motivation in the progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement (PRSR) paradigm, hedonic status in the sucrose preference (SP) test, locomotor and exploratory activity in the open field (OF) test, and anxiety in the light/dark box (LDB) test.

RESULTS:

The results of our study demonstrated for the first time that in rodents, sensitivity to negative and positive feedback could be considered a stable and enduring behavioural trait. Importantly, we also showed that these traits are independent of each other and that trait sensitivity to positive feedback is associated with cognitive flexibility in the PRL test. The computational modelling results also revealed that in animals classified as sensitive to positive feedback, the α learning rates for both positive and negative reward prediction errors were higher than those in animals classified as insensitive. We observed no statistically significant interactions between sensitivity to negative or positive feedback and the parameters measured in the PRSR, SP, OF or LDB tests.

CONCLUSIONS:

Further studies using animal models of depression based on chronic stress should reveal whether sensitivity to feedback is a latent trait that when interacts with stressful life events, could produce correlates of depressive symptoms in rats.

KEYWORDS:

Animal model; Behavioural trait; Cognitive bias; Feedback sensitivity; Reinforcement learning

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