Comparison of preferences for object properties in the rat using paired- and free-choice paradigms
Williams, C. M., Riddell, P. M. and Scott, L. A. (2008) Comparison of preferences for object properties in the rat using paired- and free-choice paradigms. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 112 (1-2). pp. 146-157. ISSN 0168-1591
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2007.07.013
A common method for testing preference for objects is to determine which of a pair of objects is approached first in a paired-choice paradigm. In comparison, many studies of preference for environmental enrichment (EE) devices have used paradigms in which total time spent with each of a pair of objects is used to determine preference. While each of these paradigms gives a specific measure of the preference for one object in comparison to another, neither method allows comparisons between multiple objects simultaneously. Since it is possible that several EE objects would be placed in a cage together to improve animal welfare, it is important to determine measures for rats' preferences in conditions that mimic this potential home cage environment. While it would be predicted that each type of measure would produce similar rankings of objects, this has never been tested empirically. In this study, we compared two paradigms: EE objects were either presented in pairs (paired-choice comparison) or four objects were presented simultaneously (simultaneous presentation comparison). We used frequency of first interaction and time spent with each object to rank the objects in the paired-choice experiment, and time spent with each object to rank the objects in the simultaneous presentation experiment. We also considered the behaviours elicited by the objects to determine if these might be contributing to object preference. We demonstrated that object ranking based on time spent with objects from the paired-choice experiment predicted object ranking in the simultaneous presentation experiment. Additionally, we confirmed that behaviours elicited were an important determinant of time spent with an object. This provides convergent evidence that both paired choice and simultaneous comparisons provide valid measures of preference for EE objects in rats. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.