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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

Print version ISSN 0100-879XOn-line version ISSN 1414-431X

Abstract

Animal models of anxiety: an ethological perspective. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 1997, vol.30, n.3, pp.289-304. ISSN 1414-431X.  https://doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X1997000300002.

In the field of anxiety research, animal models are used as screening tools in the search for compounds with therapeutic potential and as simulations for research on mechanisms underlying emotional behaviour. However, a solely pharmacological approach to the validation of such tests has resulted in distinct problems with their applicability to systems other than those involving the benzodiazepine/GABAA receptor complex. In this context, recent developments in our understanding of mammalian defensive behaviour have not only prompted the development of new models but also attempts to refine existing ones. The present review focuses on the application of ethological techniques to one of the most widely used animal models of anxiety, the elevated plus-maze paradigm. This fresh approach to an established test has revealed a hitherto unrecognized multidimensionality to plus-maze behaviour and, as it yields comprehensive behavioural profiles, has many advantages over conventional methodology. This assertion is supported by reference to recent work on the effects of diverse manipulations including psychosocial stress, benzodiazepines, GABA receptor ligands, neurosteroids, 5-HT1A receptor ligands, and panicolytic/panicogenic agents. On the basis of this review, it is suggested that other models of anxiety may well benefit from greater attention to behavioural detail

Keywords : animal models of anxiety; ethology; defence; risk assessment; plus-maze; behavioural profiling; pharmacology.

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