Sex differences in animal models of decision making

J Neurosci Res. 2017 Jan 2;95(1-2):260-269. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23810.


The ability to weigh the costs and benefits of various options to make an adaptive decision is critical to an organism's survival and wellbeing. Many psychiatric diseases are characterized by maladaptive decision making, indicating a need for better understanding of the mechanisms underlying this process and the ways in which it is altered under pathological conditions. Great strides have been made in uncovering these mechanisms, but the majority of what is known comes from studies conducted solely in male subjects. In recent years, decision-making research has begun to include female subjects to determine whether sex differences exist and to identify the mechanisms that contribute to such differences. This Mini-Review begins by describing studies that have examined sex differences in animal (largely rodent) models of decision making. Possible explanations, both theoretical and biological, for such differences in decision making are then considered. The Mini-Review concludes with a discussion of the implications of sex differences in decision making for understanding psychiatric conditions. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: delay discounting; dopamine; intertemporal choice; probability; risk.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Sex Characteristics*