The Maudsley reactive (MR) and Maudsley non-reactive (MNR) inbred rat strains were created as an animal model of anxiety, based on open field behavior. We wished to determine whether previously described characteristic open field behavior and learning deficits in conditioned avoidance could be generalized to other paradigms of exploratory behavior (such as the staircase test) and learning (such as the T-maze swim test). As with other open field paradigms, the MR rats showed stable and large differences in the staircase test, compared with the MNR rats. In contrast, large and stable learning differences in conditioned avoidance and T-maze swim tests were not observed. We conclude that the MR rats exhibit exploratory behavior that is inhibited in a wide variety of paradigms, but learning deficits are not major characteristics of the phenotype. The inhibited exploratory behavior is a stable characteristic with large inter-strain differences, making measures of open field behavior suitable for quantitative trait loci analysis to determine the genes which explain these large and stable strain differences. Identification of these genes could provide clues to the genetic origins of some human anxiety disorders.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry