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Black and white box test

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The Black and white test (also named light-dark test) is based on the conflict of natural tendencies of rodents to avoid lighted and open areas and to explore novel environments.

The apparatus contains a white opened compartment and a small enclosed black compartment. Relative time spent in exploring each compartment indicates the anxiety level of the animal: avoidance of the brightly lit area is considered reflecting “anxiety-like” behaviors. When treated with anxiolytic drugs, rodents spend more time in this area, an effect purportedly due to a decrease in anxiety.

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TRUSCAN (Coulbourn)

Reasons for choosing this test

  • Exploration-based conflict task
  • Based on innate behavioral tendencies (ethological test)
  • Light versus dark compartment choice
  • Widely used in literature
  • Simple to set up and use
  • Short-lasting experiment (no more than 5-10 min)
  • Sensitive for both rats and mice

Reasons for not choosing this test

  • Repeated exposition induces habituation
  • Influenced by a host of variables
  • Needs intact locomotor performances
  • Difficult to dissociate impaired locomotor activity from anxiety-induced suppression of exploration
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