UNIT 9.57 Measuring Cognitive Judgement Bias in Rats Using the Ambiguous-Cue Interpretation Test

  1. Justyna Papciak1,2,
  2. Rafal Rygula1

Published Online: 3 JAN 2017

DOI: 10.1002/cpns.19

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

How to Cite

Papciak, J. and Rygula, R. 2017. Measuring cognitive judgement bias in rats using the ambiguous-cue interpretation test. Curr. Protoc. Neurosci. 78:9.57.1-9.57.22. doi: 10.1002/cpns.19

Author Information

  1. 1

    Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience and Drug Development, Affective Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Krakow, Poland

  2. 2

    Currently at School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 JAN 2017


An active-choice, operant, ambiguous-cue interpretation (ACI) paradigm is described that can be used for measuring cognitive judgement bias in rats. In this behavioral test, animals in an operant conditioning chamber are trained to press a lever to receive a food reward when a specific tone is presented, and to press another lever in response to a different tone to avoid punishment by an electric foot-shock. The tones, which serve as discriminative stimuli, acquire a positive or negative valence, and the training continues until the rats demonstrate a stable, correct discrimination between these two stimuli. The animals are tested after they have attained stable discrimination performance. The ambiguous-cue test consists of a discrimination task, as described above, but includes the presentation of additional tones with frequencies that are intermediate between the trained positive and negative tones. The lever-press response pattern to these ambiguous cues is considered an indicator of the rat's expectation of a positive or negative event; in other words, it is a measure of ‘optimism’ or ‘pessimism’, respectively. © 2017 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • rat;
  • ambiguous-cue interpretation;
  • pessimism;
  • optimism;
  • cognitive judgement bias