Axiety can be defined as a response to a “potential” threat (places/things that are thought to entail risks). The perception and response to such threats is entirely out of proportion and results either in inability to cope with danger or a state of arousal that does not correspond with the real external danger.
No test measures anxiety directly. Instead, the tests quantify behaviors that are altered as the mouse/rat becomes more or less anxious (anxiety-related behaviors). At Neuropharmatest we can measure the effects of your drug/treatment on anxiety using these tests. Rodents have an innate aversion to open and brightly lit spaces (presumably an adaptive response to reduce the risk of predation), but are also a naturally exploratory and foraging species. Thus, exploration-based conflict tests are by far the most commonly used tests for testing these behaviors; they exploit these conflicting tendencies in the form of a test apparatus where the mouse’s drive to approach is in conflict with the avoidance of potential threat.
The apparatus contains a white opened compartment and a small enclosed black compartment. Relative time spent in exploring each compartment indicates the anxiety level of the animal: avoidance of the brightly lit area is considered reflecting “anxiety-like” behaviors. When treated with anxiolytic drugs, rodents spend more time in this area, an effect maybe due to a decrease in anxiety.
The open field is an empty test arena, usually round or square, in which the animal’s activity is measured. The amount of time spent close to the wall (an anxiety-like response referred to as thigmotaxis) versus the amount of time spent in, and frequencies of visits to, the inner zone are measured. Additionally, general locomotor behavior (total distance moved) is often taken into account. The apparatus contains a white opened compartment and a small enclosed black compartment.