Over the past years, two breeding lines, derived originally from outbred Wistar rats, have been established that differ markedly and consistently in their anxiety-related behaviour in the elevated plus-maze. At the age of ten weeks, rats were tested once on the elevated plus-maze and the males and females displaying the most anxious and the least anxious behaviour were sib-mated to start a new generation of the high anxiety-related behaviour (HAB) and the low anxiety-related behaviour (LAB) lines, respectively. The resulting difference in emotionality between these two lines was also evident in an open field test and correlated with differences in the forced swim test. In the open field, the HAB rats tended to be less active and explored the central zone of the open field much less than the LAB animals. In the forced swim test, HAB rats started floating earlier, spent significantly more time in this immobile posture and struggled less than LAB rats. However, in an olfactory-cued social discrimination task there was no difference between male and female animals from either line. The overall performance in these various behavioural tests suggests that selective breeding has resulted in rat lines not only differing markedly in their innate anxiety-related behaviour in the plus-maze, but also in other stress-related behavioural performances, suggesting a close link between the emotional evaluation of a novel and stressful situation and an individual's coping strategy.
Behavioural Brain Research – Elsevier
Published: Aug 1, 1998
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