Holeboard test

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The holeboard test is mainly used for assessing exploratory behaviors in rodents.

The animal is placed on an arena with regularly arranged holes on the floor. Both frequency and duration of spontaneous elicited hole-poking behavior are then measured during a short period of time. This test also provides a simple method for assessing anxious response of a rodent to an unfamiliar environment. The use of the hole-board in this perspective relies on the hypothesis that the behavior of animals exposed to a novel situation results from competition between an exploratory tendency and a withdrawal tendency. Thus, a high level of anxiety results in decreased head-dipping behavior and inversely, a low level of anxiety manifests as increased head-dipping behavior. Other associated behaviors can be evaluated during the hole board test, such as grooming, rearing and locomotion.


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Reasons for choosing this test

  • Exploration-based conflict task in anxiety studies
  • Allows differentiation between “inquisitive” and “inspective” exploration
  • Based on innate behavioral tendencies (ethological test)
  • Short-lasting experiment (no more than 10 min)
  • Simple to set up and use
  • Sensitive for both rats and mice

Reasons for not choosing this test

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