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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1997 Nov;21(6):783-9.

Differentiation of anxiolytic and panicolytic drugs by effects on rat and mouse defense test batteries.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA.


The use of ethoexperimental techniques to elicit and maximize the full range of defensive behaviors of rats and mice enables a very precise analysis of the effects of drugs on these behavior patterns. Two rat defense test batteries (the fear/defense test battery or F/DTB and the anxiety/defense test battery or A/DTB) have provided evidence that anxiolytic drugs, even from different classes, produce a common pattern of changes in specific behaviors. A recently developed mouse defense test battery (MDTB) has enabled description of mouse defensive behaviors to a predator, for comparison to those of rats, and a series of studies of drug effects on the behaviors measured in the MDTB provides evidence of cross-species generality of anxiolytic drug effects, or lack of effect, on specific defensive behaviors. In addition, tests with panicogenic and panicolytic drugs in the MDTB indicate that these enhance and reduce, respectively, flight reactions, which generally are not altered by anxiolytic compounds. Thus, results from the MDTB, taken in conjunction with those of the two rat test batteries and other defense analyses in rats and mice, provide evidence that many defensive behaviors are similar across rodent species, while the differences obtained provide a consistent pattern across situations. Moreover, the defense test batteries may be used to differentiate the effects of drugs effective against generalized anxiety as opposed to panic, through effects on specific defensive behaviors.

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