Stress-induced social avoidance: A new model of stress-induced anxiety?

J. Haller, N. Bakos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Citations (Scopus)


We have studied the long-term behavioral effects of a single stressor in male rats by using an approach/avoidance situation as the behavioral endpoint. A single exposure to social defeat or electric shocks was used as stressors. Behavioral testing was performed in a two-compartment cage divided by an opaque wall and connected by a short tunnel. The larger compartment contained an unfamiliar male rat that was separated from the rest of the compartment by a transparent, perforated Plexiglas wall. The subject was placed in the small compartment and allowed to explore the cage for 5 min. The test was performed on Days 1, 5, or 10 after stress application. Unstressed rats spent 90% of time in the large compartment that contained the unfamiliar male. Social defeat dramatically reduced the exploration of the large compartment, without time-related changes in this response. A mild electric shock had a similar effect that lasted more than 5 days but less than 10 days. The exploration of an empty cage was significantly less inhibited by stress than the exploration of a cage that contained the stimulus rat. The test could be applied repeatedly in the same rat, without major changes in the response. Chlordiazepoxide applied 1 h before behavioral testing abolished completely the stress-induced behavioral deficit. We suggest that the model can be used for studying the effects of various compounds on stress-induced anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-332
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002


  • Anxiety
  • Anxiolytic
  • Model
  • Rat
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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