Brown Institute for Brain Science

Light/Dark Box

Rationale of Test

Mice are nocturnal and prefer to avoid brightly lit places. However they are also curious and will explore novel environments. For this task the mouse is placed into a divided shuttle arena with a brightly lit side and a darkened side connected by a small open door. The latency to emerge from the dark into the brightly lit arena and time in the brightly lit arena are used as the measures of interest.

Apparatus

Divided shuttle arena with a brightly lit side and a darkened side connected by a small open door.

Procedure

A mouse is placed in the dark chamber of the box and allowed to freely explore for a period of 10 minutes. During this trial, latency to emerge from the dark side of the chamber (4 paws in the lighted side) is collected as well as total time spent in the lighted side of the arena.

Interpretation

Increased latency to emerge and less time in the lighted area than relevant control animals are indicators of heightened anxiety-like behavior.

Relevant Controls

Insure that the mice are not blind, and thus sensitive to the manipulation of light versus dark.

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