Decision making in avoidance–reward conflict: a paradigm for non-human primates and humans

Demetrio Sierra-Mercado, Thilo Deckersbach, Amanda R. Arulpragasam, Tina Chou, Alexandra M. Rodman, Amanda Duffy, Eric J. McDonald, Christine A. Eckhardt, Andrew K. Corse, Navneet Kaur, Emad N. Eskandar, Darin D. Dougherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Decision making in both animals and humans is influenced by the anticipation of reward and/or punishment. Little is known about how reward and punishment interact in the context of decision making. The Avoidance–Reward Conflict (ARC) Task is a new paradigm that varies the degree of reward and the probability of punishment in a single paradigm that can be used in both non-human primates (NHPs) and humans. This study examined the behavioral pattern in the ARC task in both NHPs and humans. Two adult male NHPs (macaca mulatta) and 20 healthy human volunteers (12 females) participated in the ARC task. NHPs and humans perform similarly on the ARC task. With a high probability of punishment (an aversive air puff to the eye), both NHPs and humans are more likely to forgo reward if it is small or medium magnitude than when it is large. Both NHPs and humans perform similarly on the same behavioral task suggesting the reliability of animal models in predicting human behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2509-2517
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 28 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal model
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology


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