Login | Register

Valuation of opportunity costs by rats working for rewarding electrical brain stimulation


Valuation of opportunity costs by rats working for rewarding electrical brain stimulation

Solomon, Rebecca Brana, Conover, Kent and Shizgal, Peter ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4265-0792 (2017) Valuation of opportunity costs by rats working for rewarding electrical brain stimulation. PLoS ONE, 12 (8). e0182120. ISSN 1932-6203

[thumbnail of Publisher's version]
Text (Publisher's version) (application/pdf)
Solomon_Conover_Shizgal_2017_PLOS ONE.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
[thumbnail of Supplemental Material]
Text (Supplemental Material) (application/pdf)
pone.0182120.s001.pdf - Supplemental Material
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Official URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.137...


Pursuit of one goal typically precludes simultaneous pursuit of another. Thus, each exclusive activity entails an “opportunity cost:” the forgone benefits from the next-best activity eschewed. The present experiment estimates, in laboratory rats, the function that maps objective opportunity costs into subjective ones. In an operant chamber, rewarding electrical brain stimulation was delivered when the cumulative time a lever had been depressed reached a criterion duration. The value of the activities forgone during this duration is the opportunity cost of the electrical reward. We determined which of four functions best describes how objective opportunity costs, expressed as the required duration of lever depression, are translated into their subjective equivalents. The simplest account is the identity function, which equates subjective and objective opportunity costs. A variant of this function called the ``sigmoidal-slope function,'' converges on the identity function at longer durations but deviates from it at shorter durations. The sigmoidal-slope function has the form of a hockey stick. The flat “blade” denotes a range over which opportunity costs are subjectively equivalent; these durations are too short to allow substitution of more beneficial activities. The blade extends into an upward-curving portion over which costs become discriminable and finally into the straight “handle,” over which objective and subjective costs match. The two remaining functions are based on hyperbolic and exponential temporal discounting, respectively. The results are best described by the sigmoidal-slope function. That this is so suggests that different principles of intertemporal choice are involved in the evaluation of time spent working for a reward or waiting for its delivery. The subjective opportunity-cost function plays a key role in the evaluation and selection of goals. An accurate description of its form and parameters is essential to successful modeling and prediction of instrumental performance and reward-related decision making.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Concordia University > Research Units > Centre for Studies in Behavioural Neurobiology
Item Type:Article
Authors:Solomon, Rebecca Brana and Conover, Kent and Shizgal, Peter
Journal or Publication:PLoS ONE
Date:25 August 2017
  • Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):10.1371/journal.pone.0182120
Keywords:behavioral economics, decision making, operant conditioning
ID Code:982871
Deposited By: Peter Shizgal
Deposited On:30 Aug 2017 21:39
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:55


1. Robbins L. An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science. London, UK: MacMillan
and Co; 1935.
2. Shizgal P. Scarce means with alternative uses: Robbins' definition of economics and its extension to
the behavioral and neurobiological study of animal decision making. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2012;
6:20. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2012.00020 PMID: 22363253
3. Frank RH. Microeconomics and behavior. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin; 2010.
4. Krugman PR, Wells R. Economics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers; 2009.
5. Stephens DW, Krebs JR. Foraging theory. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press; 1986.
6. Stephens DW, Brown JS, Ydenberg RC. Foraging: behavior and ecology. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press; 2007.
7. Kahneman D, Tversky A. Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk. Econometrica: Journal
of the Econometric Society. 1979;p. 263±292. https://doi.org/10.2307/1914185
8. Tversky A, Kahneman D. Advances in prospect theory: Cumulative representation of uncertainty. Journal
of Risk and Uncertainty. 1992 Oct; 5(4):297±323. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00122574
9. Hamilton AL, Stellar JR, Hart EB. Reward, performance, and the response strength method in self-stimulating
rats: validation and neuroleptics. Physiology & behavior. 1985; 35(6):897±904. https://doi.org/
10. Gallistel CR, Leon M. Measuring the subjective magnitude of brain stimulation reward by titration with
rate of reward. Behavioral Neuroscience. 1991; 105(6):913±925. https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7044.
105.6.913 PMID: 1663762
11. Leon M, Gallistel CR. The function relating the subjective magnitude of brain stimulation reward to stimulation
strength varies with site of stimulation. Behavioural Brain Research. 1992; 52(2):183±193.
https://doi.org/10.1016/S0166-4328(05)80229-3 PMID: 1294198
12. Mark TA, Gallistel CR. Subjective reward magnitude of medial forebrain stimulation as a function of
train duration and pulse frequency. Behavioral Neuroscience. 1993; 107(2):389±401. https://doi.org/10.
1037/0735-7044.107.2.389 PMID: 8484902
13. Simmons JM, Gallistel CR. Saturation of subjective reward magnitude as a function of current and
pulse frequency. Behavioral Neuroscience. 1994; 108(1):151±160. https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7044.
108.1.151 PMID: 8192841
14. Arvanitogiannis A, Shizgal P. The reinforcement mountain: allocation of behavior as a function of the
rate and intensity of rewarding brain stimulation. Behavioral Neuroscience. 2008; 122(5):1126±1138.
https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012679 PMID: 18823168
15. Hernandez G, Breton YA, Conover K, Shizgal P. At what stage of neural processing does cocaine act to
boost pursuit of rewards? PLoS ONE. 2010; 5(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0015081
16. Trujillo-Pisanty I, Hernandez G, Moreau-Debord I, Cossette MP, Conover K, Cheer JF, et al. Cannabinoid
receptor blockade reduces the opportunity cost at which rats maintain operant performance for
rewarding brain stimulation. The Journal of neuroscience: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.
2011; 31(14):5426±5435. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0079-11.2011
17. Hernandez G, Trujillo-Pisanty I, Cossette MP, Conover K, Shizgal P. Role of dopamine tone in the pursuit
of brain stimulation reward. The Journal of neuroscience: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.
2012; 32(32):11032±11041. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1051-12.2012
18. Breton YA, Mullett A, Conover K, Shizgal P. Validation and extension of the reward-mountain model.
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2013; 7:125. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00125 PMID:
19. Breton YA, Conover K, Shizgal P. The effect of probability discounting on reward seeking: a threedimensional
perspective. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2014; 8:284.
20. Trujillo-Pisanty I, Conover K, Shizgal P. A new view of the effect of dopamine receptor antagonism on
operant performance for rewarding brain stimulation in the rat. Psychopharmacology. 2014; 231
(7):1351±1364. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-013-3328-x
21. Solomon RB, Trujillo-Pisanty I, Conover K, Shizgal P. Psychophysical inference of frequency-following
fidelity in the neural substrate for brain stimulation reward. Behavioural Brain Research. 2015 Oct;
292:327±341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2015.06.008 PMID: 26057357
22. Conover K, Shizgal P. Employing labor-supply theory to measure the reward value of electrical brain
stimulation. Games and Economic Behavior. 2005; 52:283±304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geb.2004.08.
23. Breton YA, Marcus JC, Shizgal P. Rattus Psychologicus: construction of preferences by self-stimulating
rats. Behavioural Brain Research. 2009; 202(1):77±91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2009.03.019
PMID: 19447284
24. Conover KL, Shizgal P. Competition and Summation between Rewarding Effects of Sucrose and Lateral
Hypothalamic Stimulation in the Rat. Behavioral Neuroscience. 1994; 108(3):537±548. PMID:
25. Conover KL, Woodside B, Shizgal P. Effects of Sodium Depletion on Competition and Summation
between Rewarding Effects of Salt and Lateral Hypothalamic Stimulation in the Rat. Behavioral Neuroscience.
1994; 108(3):549±558. https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7044.108.3.549 PMID: 7917049
26. Conover KL, Shizgal P. Differential Effects of Postingestive Feedback on the Reward Value of Sucrose
and Lateral Hypothalamic Stimulation in Rats. Behavioral Neuroscience. 1994; 108(3):559±572. https://
doi.org/10.1037/0735-7044.108.3.559 PMID: 7917050
27. Shizgal P. Neural Basis of Utility Estimation. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 1997; 7(2):198±208.
https://doi.org/10.1016/S0959-4388(97)80008-6 PMID: 9142755
28. Herrnstein R. On the law of effect. J Exp Anal Behav. 1970; 13(2):243±266. https://doi.org/10.1901/
jeab.1970.13-243 PMID: 16811440
29. Herrnstein R. Formal properties of the matching law. J Exp Anal Behav. 1974; 21(1):159±164. https://
doi.org/10.1901/jeab.1974.21-159 PMID: 16811728
30. McDowell JJ. On the Classic and Modern Theories of Matching. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of
Behavior. 2005; 84(1):111±127. https://doi.org/10.1901/jeab.2005.59-04 PMID: 16156140
31. Gibbon J. Scalar expectancy theory and Weber's law in animal timing. Psychological Review. 1977; 84
(3):279±325. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.84.3.279
32. Mazur JE. Choice between single and multiple delayed reinforcers. Journal of the Experimental Analysis
of Behavior. 1986 Jul; 46(1):67±77. https://doi.org/10.1901/jeab.1986.46-67 PMID: 3746189
33. Namboodiri VMK, Mihalas S, Marton TM, Hussain Shuler MG. A general theory of intertemporal decision-
making and the perception of time. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2014; 8.
34. Frederick S, Loewenstein G, O'Donoghue T. Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review.
Journal of Economic Literature. 2002;p. 351±401. https://doi.org/10.1257/jel.40.2.351
35. Namboodiri VMK, Mihalas S, Shuler MGH. Rationalizing Decision-Making: Understanding the Cost and
Perception of Time. Timing Time Perception Reviews. 2014 Jan; 1(1):1±40. https://doi.org/10.1163/
36. Fouriezos G, Randall D. The cost of delaying rewarding brain stimulation. Behavioural Brain Research.
1997; 87(1):111±113. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0166-4328(97)02280-8 PMID: 9331479
37. Mazur J, Stellar J, Waraczynski M. Self-control choice with electrical stimulation of the brain. Behav Processes.
1987; 151(2-3):143±153. https://doi.org/10.1016/0376-6357(87)90003-9
38. Samuelson P. A Note on the Pure Theory of Consumer's Behaviour. Economica. 1938; 5(17):61±71.
39. Sutton RS, Barto AG. Reinforcement learning: an introduction. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press; 1998.
40. Akaike H. A new look at the statistical model identification. IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control.
1974 Dec; 19(6):716±723. https://doi.org/10.1109/TAC.1974.1100705
41. Paxinos G, Watson C. The rat brain in stereotaxic coordinates. Seventh edition ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier
(Academic Press); 2007.
42. Efron B, Tibshirani R. An introduction to the bootstrap. vol. 57. New York: Chapman and Hall; 1993.
43. Solomon RB. The Psychophysics of Reward: Empirical Studies and Modeling of Performance for
Medial Forebrain Electrical Stimulation in the Rat [PhD]. Concordia University. Montreal; 2014.
44. Schwarz G. Estimating the Dimension of a Model. The Annals of Statistics. 1978 Mar; 6(2):461±464.
45. McFarland DJ, Sibley RM. The behavioural final common path. Philosophical transactions of the Royal
Society of London Series B, Biological sciences. 1975; 270(907):265±293. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.
1975.0009 PMID: 239416
46. Sonnenschein B, Conover K, Shizgal P. Growth of brain stimulation reward as a function of duration
and stimulation strength. Behavioral Neuroscience. 2003; 117(5):978±994. https://doi.org/10.1037/
0735-7044.117.5.978 PMID: 14570548
47. Gallistel CR, Gibbon J. Time, Rate, and Conditioning. Psychological Review. 2000; 107(2):289±344.
https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.107.2.289 PMID: 10789198
48. Herrnstein R. Relative and Absolute Strength of Response as a Function of Frequency of Reinforcement.
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. 1961; 4:267±272. https://doi.org/10.1901/jeab.
1961.4-267 PMID: 13713775
49. Tversky A, Kahneman D. Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Science (New York,
NY). 1974; 185(4157):1124±1131. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.185.4157.1124
50. Kalenscher T, van Wingerden M. Why We Should Use Animals to Study Economic Decision MakingÐa
Perspective. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2011; 5:82. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2011.00082 PMID:
51. Marsh B, Kacelnik A. Framing Effects and Risky Decisions in Starlings. Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2002; 99(5):3352±3355. https://doi.org/10.1073/
pnas.042491999 PMID: 11867709
52. Solomon RB, Conover K, Shizgal P. Estimation of subjective opportunity cost in rats working for rewarding
brain stimulation: further progress. In: Society for Neuroscience Abstract Viewer. vol. 37; 2007. p.
53. Solomon RB. Subjective estimates of opportunity cost in rats working for rewarding brain stimulation
[MA]. Concordia University. Ann Arbor; 2006.
54. Gibbon J, Church RM. Time Left: Linear versus Logarithmic Subjective Time. Journal of Experimental
Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes. 1981; 7(2):87±107. PMID: 7241054
55. Cerutti DT, Staddon JER. Immediacy Versus Anticipated Delay in the Time-Left Experiment: A Test of
the Cognitive Hypothesis. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes. 2004; 30
(1):45±57. https://doi.org/10.1037/0097-7403.30.1.45 PMID: 14709114
56. Staddon JE, Higa JJ. Time and Memory: Towards a Pacemaker-Free Theory of Interval Timing. Journal
of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. 1999 Mar; 71(2):215±251. https://doi.org/10.1901/jeab.1999.
71-215 PMID: 10220931
57. Hartmann MN, Hager OM, Tobler PN, Kaiser S. Parabolic Discounting of Monetary Rewards by Physical
Effort. Behavioural Processes. 2013 Nov; 100:192±196. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2013.09.
014 PMID: 24140077
58. Klein-FluÈgge MC, Kennerley SW, Saraiva AC, Penny WD, Bestmann S. Behavioral Modeling of Human
Choices Reveals Dissociable Effects of Physical Effort and Temporal Delay on Reward Devaluation.
PLOS Computational Biology. 2015 Mar; 11(3):e1004116. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004116
PMID: 25816114
59. Kagel JH, Battalio RC, Green L. Economic choice theory: an experimental analysis of animal behavior.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1995.
60. Niyogi RK, Breton YA, Solomon RB, Conover K, Shizgal P, Dayan P. Optimal indolence: a normative
microscopic approach to work and leisure. Journal of The Royal Society Interface. 2013; 11
(91):20130969±20130969. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2013.0969
61. Niyogi RK, Shizgal P, Dayan P. Some work and some play: microscopic and macroscopic approaches
to labor and leisure. PLoS Computational Biology. 2014; 10(12):e1003894. https://doi.org/10.1371/
journal.pcbi.1003894 PMID: 25474151
62. Niv Y, Daw ND, Joel D, Dayan P. Tonic dopamine: opportunity costs and the control of response vigor.
Psychopharmacology. 2007; 191(3):507±520. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-006-0502-4 PMID:
63. Wikenheiser AM, Stephens DW, Redish AD. Subjective costs drive overly patient foraging strategies in
rats on an intertemporal foraging task. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United
States of America. 2013; 110(20):8308±8313. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1220738110 PMID:
All items in Spectrum are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved. The use of items is governed by Spectrum's terms of access.

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Downloads per month over past year

Research related to the current document (at the CORE website)
- Research related to the current document (at the CORE website)
Back to top Back to top