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Behav Brain Res. 2009 Feb 11;197(2):417-34. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.10.007. Epub 2008 Oct 15.

Do rats really express neophobia towards novel objects? Experimental evidence from exposure to novelty and to an object recognition task in an open space and an enclosed space.

Author information

1
University of Sunderland, Sunderland Pharmacy School, Wharncliffe Street, Sunderland, SR1 3SD, UK. abdel_ennaceur@yahoo.com

Abstract

Three set of experiments were performed in an enclosed space (open-field) and in an open space (elevated platform). The surface of the open-field and the elevated platform were divided in nine equal squares. Rats were exposed (without previous habituation) in a unique session (experiment 1) or three consecutive sessions (experiment 2) either to an open-field (enclosed space) or to an elevated platform (open space) with and without an object on the centre of the field. In experiment 3, rats were exposed (without previous habituation) either to an enclosed or an open space on five consecutive sessions, one session a day. They were tested in an object recognition test in sessions 1, 3 and 5. In sessions 2 and 4, no objects were present. In experiment 1, we recorded the latency, frequency and duration of entries into different areas of the field. In experiment 3, we recorded the latency, frequency and duration of contacts with objects in addition to entries into different areas of the field. The first experiment demonstrates that rats exposed for the first time to an enclosed or an open space do not express neophobia toward novel objects in the absence of walls that surround an open-field. They crossed frequently into and spent more time in areas occupied with an object than in unoccupied areas. After two sessions of habituation to an empty open space or an empty enclosed space, the latency of first approach to a novel object is reduced while the frequency and duration of approaches are increased. The third experiment on object recognition confirmed that rats do not avoid novel objects; they made frequent visit and spent more time in the corner of the field occupied with an object than in empty corners. Recording of crossings provided detailed information about the patterns of exploratory behavior of rats but failed to reveal discrimination between novel and familiar objects which was evident in both open and enclosed space with recording of contacts with objects on the fifth exposure.

PMID:
18992282
DOI:
10.1016/j.bbr.2008.10.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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