New replicable anxiety-related measures of wall vs. center behavior of mice in the open field

Dina Lipkind*, Anat Sakov, Neri Kafkafi, Gregory I. Elmer, Yoav Benjamini, Ilan Golani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Anxiety is a widely studied psychiatric disorder and is thought to be a complex and multidimensional phenomenon. Sensitive behavioral discrimination of animal models of anxiety is crucial for the elucidation of the behavioral components of anxiety and the physiological processes that mediate them. Commonly used behavior paradigms of anxiety usually include only a few automatically collected measures; these do not exhaust the behavioral richness exhibited by animals, thus perhaps missing important differences between preparations. The aim of the present study was to expand the repertoire of automatically collected measures in a classical test of anxiety: behavior in relation to the wall in the open field. We present an algorithm, based on the Software for the Exploration of Exploration strategy, which automatically partitions the mouse path into intrinsically defined patterns of movement near the wall and in the center. These patterns are used to design new end points, which provide an articulated description of various aspects of behavior near the wall and in the center. Sixteen new end points were designed with data from C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mice tested in three laboratories. The strain differences in all end points were evaluated on another data set to assess their validity and were found to remain stable. Ten of the sixteen end points were found to discriminate between the two strains in a replicable manner. The entire set of end points can be used on various genetic and pharmacological models of anxiety with good prospects of providing fine discrimination in a replicable manner.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)347-359
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral phenotyping
  • C57BL/6J
  • DBA/2J
  • Ethological measures
  • Mouse Phenome Project
  • Thigmotaxis


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