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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1993;111(3):323-31.

Differences in fear motivated behaviors among inbred mouse strains.

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Laboratory of Neuroscience, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


The behavioral performance of inbred mouse strains was examined in animal models of anxiety to evaluate the potential contribution of genetic factors to fear-motivated behaviors. The preference that randomly bred mice and rats exhibit for the enclosed as opposed to the open arms of an elevated maze has been considered a fear-motivated behavior. Pronounced differences were observed in this measure among 16 inbred mouse strains. An estimate of the proportion of the variance attributable to between-strain differences, eta 2, revealed that 78% and 69% of the variance in time and number of entries in the open arms of an elevated maze, respectively, can be attributed to genetic factors. In contrast, only 27% and 42% of the variance could be attributed to between-strain differences in ambulatory activity in the open field and elevated maze, respectively. Furthermore, performance in the elevated maze was predictive of behavior in other animal models of anxiety. Thus, significant negative correlations were observed among inbred mouse strains between the percent time spent in the open arms of the elevated maze and amplitude of an acoustic startle response (rs = -0.88m P < 0.01) or latency to initiate chow consumption in a hyponeophagia paradigm (rs = -0.71, P < 0.05). These results indicate that genetic factors substantially contribute to fear motivated behaviors in these animal models of anxiety. The use of such inbred mouse strains may provide a novel approach to investigate the biochemical and genetic bases of fear.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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