Recent Updates in Modeling Risky Decision Making in Rodents

  • Caitlin A. Orsini
  • Shelby L. Blaes
  • Barry SetlowEmail author
  • Nicholas W. Simon
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 2011)


Excessive preference for risky over safe options is a hallmark of several psychiatric disorders. Here we describe a behavioral task that models such risky decision making in rats. In this task, rats are given choices between small, safe rewards and large rewards accompanied by risk of footshock punishment. The risk of punishment changes within a test session, allowing quantification of decision making at different levels of risk. Importantly, this task can yield a wide degree of reliable individual variability, allowing the characterization of rats as “risk-taking” or “risk-averse.” The task has been demonstrated to be effective for testing the effects of pharmacological agents and neurobiological manipulations, and the individual variability (which mimics the human population) allows assessment of behavioral and neurobiological distinctions among subjects based on their risk-taking profile.

Key words

Risk Risk taking Decision making Cost/benefit Rat Psychiatric disorders Behavior Animal models 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caitlin A. Orsini
    • 1
  • Shelby L. Blaes
    • 1
  • Barry Setlow
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Nicholas W. Simon
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Center for Addiction Research and EducationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Florida College of MedicineGainesvilleUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA

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