The role of ‘jackpot’ stimuli in maladaptive decision-making: dissociable effects of D1/D2 receptor agonists and antagonists

Aaron P. Smith, Rebecca S. Hofford, Thomas R. Zentall, Joshua S. Beckmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Rationale: Laboratory experiments often model risk through a choice between a large, uncertain (LU) reward against a small, certain (SC) reward as an index of an individual’s risk tolerance. An important factor generally lacking from these procedures are reward-associated cues that may modulate risk preferences. Objective: We tested whether the addition of cues signaling ‘jackpot’ wins to LU choices would modulate risk preferences and if these cue effects were mediated by dopaminergic signaling. Methods: Three groups of rats chose between LU and SC rewards for which the LU probability of reward decreased across blocks. The unsignaled group received a non-informative stimulus of trial outcome. The signaled group received a jackpot signal prior to reward delivery and blackout on losses. The signaled-light group received a similar jackpot for wins, but a salient loss signal distinct from the win signal. Results: Presenting win signals decreased the discounting of LU value for both signaled groups regardless of loss signal, while the unsignaled group showed discounting similar to previous research without cues. Pharmacological challenges with D1/D2 agonists and antagonists revealed that D1 antagonism increased and decreased sensitives to the relative probability of reward for unsignaled and signaled groups, respectively, while D2 agonists decreased sensitivities to the relative magnitude of reward. Conclusion: The results highlight how signals predictive of wins can promote maladaptive risk taking in individuals, while loss signals have reduced effect. Additionally, the presence of reward-predictive cues may change the underlying neurobehavioral mechanisms mediating decision-making under risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1427-1437
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Decision-making
  • Discounting
  • Dopamine
  • Gambling
  • Rat
  • Suboptimal choice


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of ‘jackpot’ stimuli in maladaptive decision-making: dissociable effects of D1/D2 receptor agonists and antagonists'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this