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Combination of open field and elevated plus-maze: a suitable test battery to assess strain as well as treatment differences in rat behavior.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Mainz, Germany.


1. A test battery consisting of a standard open field, an enriched open field and an elevated plus maze was used to study behavior in rats. 2. Male rats of the strains PVG/OlaHsd (PVG) and Sprague-Dawley-Hsd (SPRD) (150-200 g body wt) were used to assess interstrain differences as well as handling effects. In a subsequent experiment an other set of male PVG rats (150-200 g body wt) treated either with diazepam or zolpidem was used to evaluate the test battery for pharmacological purposes. 3. SPRD rats displayed higher motor activity levels and also higher levels of exploratory behavior than the PVG rats. In contrast plus-maze activity indicated more anxiety of SPRD than PVG rats. One week pre-test handling increased the activity of both strains but it increased explorative behavior in the enriched open field only in SPRD rats. Diazepam had a substantial anxiolytic effect. Zolpidem enhanced the explorative activity in a differently to diazepam and exerted only minor anxiolytic properties. 4. We concluded that the test battery used here enables to reveal differentially strain, and treatment effects in rats.

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