Open field test

The open field test is a straight-forward test to investigate activity, anxiety-related behavior and exploratory behavior in rodents.

The more time the animal spends hugging the walls, the more anxious it usually is. Exploring the center of the arena, and how long it takes the animal to start doing so is seen as a measure of exploration or boldness.

Made for you

To conduct open field testing, you simply need an open field. That sounds pretty basic, but you will need something that is easy to clean, durable, and suitable for video tracking if you want to be able to easily and objectively collect data. 

We also offer options such as detachable walls, partitions, and IR backlight.

All mazes are available in a cost-efficient package deal including a computer and a full EthoVision XT software license for video tracking. This license can also be used for video tracking and the automation of other behavioral tests. 

large circular open field IR backlight
Example of a custom large open field with NIR backlight.
large circular open field IR backlight
This open field is also equipped with a removable wall. 

Video tracking with Noldus mazes

All Noldus open fields are made from high-quality, non-reflective materials, which makes them ideal for video tracking with EthoVision XT. In addition, they can be fitted with an IR backlight in combination with an IR sensitive camera. This creates optimal contrast for superior video tracking results!

EthoVision XT video tracking software detects and tracks the center point, nose point, and tail base of mice and rats. This allows for the accurate measurement of an animal’s relative position. EthoVision XT also allows for the control of optional automated stimuli, such as light or sound.

Open field testing in PhenoTyper

If you already own a PhenoTyper or plan to do other experiments in the future, please also note that PhenoTyper is perfectly suitable for open field testing. The great benefit of PhenoTyper over other open fields is that it includes (IR) lights, a camera, and stimuli in the top unit and can be easily equipped with equipment for other tests.

Alternative suppliers

Noldus mazes can be custom build to your specifications and are optimally suited for video tracking with EthoVision XT.  Alternatively, we also offer open fields from several suppliers such as Ugo Basile and Maze Engineers (availability may depend on your location). 

Thigmotaxis analysis

A typical parameter in this test is thigmotaxis, which is when the animals spends a lot of time close the walls of the arena. This is seen as an anxiety-like response. Additionally, the latency to enter the center zone, or the number transitions and the time spent in different zones are of interest. EthoVision XT easily measures these parameters. 

Freezing and locomotion

Freezing, or immobility indicative of a fear response, can also be of interest. EthoVision XT has a specific way of measuring freezing that is in most cases much more reliable than simply measuring the immobility of the animal. Instead of tracking the animal and noticing when it is not moving or barely moving, activity detection detects changes in pixels from one video frame to the next.

General locomotor behavior is often taken into account, mostly to rule out it’s effect on test results. For example, when animals are less active due to treatment, this might falsely lead to the interpretation of high anxiety. However, when activity levels between the treatment groups don’t differ but thigmotaxis does, this is more likely an effect of the treatment. Intuitive data selection tools in EthoVision XT help you to easily pinpoint these effects. 

Dr. Thomas Prévôt from the University of Toronto is developing a new tool to assess anxiety-like and depressive-like behavior in rodents.

Read more

Read more about research using the open field test on our blog