Brown Institute for Brain Science

Locomotor Activity

Rationale of Test

A common concern when creating a genetically modified mouse or implementing a pharmacological intervention, is that results obtained on other tests may be influenced by changes in general activity of the mice (hyper or hypo-activity). Thus, a common test used to investigate overall locomotor activity of control and experimental animals is the open field task in which the mouse is allowed to freely run for an hour in a novel environment.


The open field apparatus consists of a (40 cm × 40 cm × 49 cm) white Plexiglas arena with a white floor. The apparatus is set up under a near infrared sensitive digital camera connected to a computer with a digitizer board and video tracking software. With the aid of tracking software, the arena is digitally divided into twelve equal sections.


A single mouse is placed in the center of the open field arena and allowed to freely explore the novel environment for a total of one hour. The distance traveled and average velocity, for ten-minute blocks during this two-hour period, is collected. Behavior of mice are typically compared across 10 minute blocks of time.


Differences in the total distance traveled, average velocity, and changes in distance traveled over the course of testing are used to assess basal locomotor activity.

Relevant Controls


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