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Behav Brain Res. 2005 Apr 30;159(2):247-66. Epub 2004 Dec 8.

Detailed analysis of the behavior of Lister and Wistar rats in anxiety, object recognition and object location tasks.

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School of Pharmacy, University of Sunderland, Wharncliffe Street, Sunderland SR13SD, UK.


The present study, examines some issues in the measure and analysis of behavior in animals. Two strains of rats of both genders were used to illustrate and discuss these issues. We examined to what extent various behavioral measures reflect different or identical emotional or cognitive factors and, how sensitive are the various parameters of a task to differences between strains and genders. Wistar and Lister males and females rats were tested in an anxiety test then in the object recognition task followed by the object location task. Taking advantage of a simple computer program it is possible to: (1) record several parameters of theses tasks and examine the pattern of animal responses toward novelty and/or familiarity; (2) examine whether different measurements of the same response would reflect anxiety response to novelty and, can they discriminate between novelty and familiarity responses to objects; and (3) examine if changes in the pattern of animal responses are reflected by these measurements and, whether anxiety or discrimination is evident mainly during the first minute of the test. The results on the anxiety test show that different measures of the same response proved concordant and revealed significant differences between Lister males and Wistar males. Lister males approached more frequently an object and spent more time on an object in each approach compared to Wistar males in the first 5 min of test and in the total 10 min. They have also shorter latencies between approaches compared to Wistar males. The examination of performance over different time bins was significant with the measure of frequency. Lister male rats approached less frequently the object in the last 5 min of the test compared to the first 5 min. Their performance, however, did not differ from that of the other groups in this last 5 min. In the memory tasks, the measure of the frequency of approaches suggests that Lister male rats were able to discriminate between novel and familiar objects and, between novel and familiar location of objects. The measure of latency of first approach shows that Wistar female rats were able to discriminate between objects only in the spatial memory test. Discrimination in the object recognition task was observed in the first and second minute, and in the total 3 min sessions. Discrimination in the object location task was observed with the measure of frequency of approaches, in the first minute, and in the total 3 min sessions. Results from the total 3 min sessions were more concordant between the different measures of discrimination than results from separate 1 min bins. The results from the two memory tasks show that novelty prevented habituation to re-exposure to the testing environment. In many cases, novelty increased exploration of the objects in the choice phase compared to the sample phase. However, this lack of habituation or increased exploration in the choice phase is not concordant with most results of discrimination between novelty and familiarity from the same type of measurements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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