Forced swim test

The (Porsolt) forced swim test, also known as the behavioral despair test, is used to test for depression-like behavior in both mice and rats. The test includes placing a rat or mouse inside a cylinder filled with water. Traditionally, ‘floating behavior’ (where the animal remains almost immobile and with its head above water) is used as a parameter to analyze ‘hopelessness’ and thus depression-like behavior.

Cylinder design

The cylinder is a straight-forward design. Sizing is importantly linked to the function of the test. The Noldus forced swim cylinder has standard and custom size options, and is perfectly suited for video tracking research with EthoVision XT or in-depth behavioral scoring with The Observer XT. We can also provide you with a sound attenuating chamber.   

The Noldus forced swim test cylinder is available in a cost-efficient package deal that includes a computer and a full EthoVision XT software license for video tracking. This license can also be used for the video tracking and automation of other behavioral tests.

Automatic detection of behaviors 

Video tracking allows you to detect some behaviors automatically, such as immobility, which is indicative of freezing. The three variations of mobility – immobile, mobile, and highly mobile – indicate the three most important behaviors in the forced swim test: floating, swimming, and climbing/ escaping. 

There are two ways to detect this with EthoVision XT, and they can be used alongside each other. First is by tracking the center point of the animal and determining if it is immobile or not. Thresholds can be defined by the user. Second, you can use activity detection. This method might even give you more robust data as it focuses on changes in the arena from one video frame to the next.  

Alternative suppliers

The Noldus forced swim cylinder can be adjusted to your custom request.  Alternatively, we also offer options from several suppliers such as Ugo Basile and Maze Engineers (availability may depend on your location).