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Physiol Behav. 1988;43(5):541-6.

Open-field behavior is not related to treadmill performance in exercising rats.

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Behavioral Fitness Laboratory, University of Georgia, Athens 30602.

Erratum in

  • Physiol Behav 1988;44(1):156.


We examined the association between open-field behavior and treadmill performance in 39 adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Three daily, five-minute trials were conducted in an open field of 49 19 cm squares. The objectivity of the open-field test was established by intraclass correlations (R) for observer agreement on total squares traversed (R = .99) and a subjective behavioral rating scale for anxiety (R = .92). As expected, total squares were inversely correlated (r = -.86) with the subjective anxiety ratings. An independent observer also rated animals on treadmill performance across six daily, five-minute trials of level running at 15 m/min. Performance ratings were objective (rs = .89) and reproducible (R = .91). A volitional endurance run at 30 m/min on level grade was also conducted on a subsequent day. Extreme groups of low anxious (N = 7) and high anxious (N = 7) animals were then identified from convergent responses on total square traversals and the subjective behavioral ratings that were reproducible (R = .72 to .78) of trials two and three of the open-field test. Repeated measures ANOVA showed no group differences (p greater than 0.10) on mean treadmill performance across trials. Endurance was also the same for each group (p greater than 0.05). Our findings indicate that the open-field test is objective and reliable, and it does not reveal a selection bias effect on treadmill performance or endurance. Thus, open-field behavior can be used as a dependent or subject-matching variable in studies of adult male Sprague-Dawley rats when motor-driven treadmill running is a behavioral intervention or outcome measure.

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