Stress, social avoidance and anxiolytics: A potential model of stress-induced anxiety

J. Haller, Cs Leveleki, J. Baranyi, É Mikics, N. Bakos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the social behavioural effects of a single exposure to either social defeat or electric shocks, using the recently developed social avoidance test in rats. The testing apparatus consisted of two connected chambers, one of which contained an unfamiliar male confined in a sub-chamber by a perforated Plexiglas wall. The subjects were placed in the empty chamber and, after 3 min of habituation, were allowed to explore the apparatus for 5 min. The latency, frequency and duration of visits made to the opponent-containing chamber were recorded. Both stressors reduced the exploration of the opponent-containing chamber for more than 5 days. The effects of electric shocks were not affected by housing conditions, whereas group housing protected rats from the long-term effects of defeat. In addition, the effects of social defeat in isolated rats lasted longer than the effects of electric shocks. These differences suggest that the two stressors have qualitatively different effects and may model different behavioural states in humans. In a second experiment, social avoidance induced by electric shocks was readily abolished by both chlordiazepoxide and buspirone. We suggest that the shock-induced social avoidance paradigm may become a useful model of stress-induced anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-446
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural Pharmacology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2003



  • Anxiety
  • Anxiolytic
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Buspirone
  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Rat
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this