Pharmacological manipulations of judgement bias: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Vikki Neville, Shinichi Nakagawa, Josefina Zidar, E S Paul, Malgorzata Lagisz, Melissa Bateson, Hanne Løvlie, Michael Mendl

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Validated measures of animal affect are crucial to research spanning numerous disciplines. Judgement bias, which assesses decision-making under ambiguity, is a promising measure of animal affect. One way of validating this measure is to administer drugs with affect-altering properties in humans to non-human animals and determine whether the predicted judgement biases are observed. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis using data from 20 published research articles that use this approach, from which 557 effect sizes were extracted. Pharmacological manipulations overall altered judgement bias at the probe cues as predicted. However, there were several moderating factors including the neurobiological target of the drug, whether the drug induced a relatively positive or negative affective state in humans, dosage, and the presented cue. This may partially reflect interference from adverse effects of the drug which should be considered when interpreting results. Thus, the overall pattern of change in animal judgement bias appears to reflect the affect-altering properties of drugs in humans, and hence may be a valuable measure of animal affective valence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-286
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Early online date17 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • affective state
  • animal welfare
  • judgement bias
  • meta-analysis
  • mood disorders
  • systematic review

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