Brown Institute for Brain Science

Novelty Suppressed Feeding

Rationale of Test

This task assesses the ability of the animal to resolve a conflict between a context that induces heightened anxiety and a drive to approach an appetitive stimulus. This task is also used as a marker task for assessing potential anxiolytic drug efficacy in humans, as mice require chronic administration of anxiolytics to show decreased anxiety-like behavior on this task.


Testing is carried out in an open field arena, set up under bright lighting conditions. The open field is positioned under a digital camera connected to a computer with a digitizer board and video tracking software. A piece of white filter paper is placed in the center of the arena with a small piece of rodent chow.


For this task mice are food restricted for a period of 24 hours. After food restriction, the test consists of placing the animals in a large, brightly lit, open field and measuring the time to approach and eat a pellet of food located in the center of the arena. Latency to approach and eat are used to measure anxiety-like behavior.


Longer latencies to approach and eat indicate higher levels of anxiety-like behavior.

Relevant Controls

Care must be taken to insure no differences between groups in motivational status, motor function, or sensory function.

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