• Anxiety;
  • elevated zero-maze;
  • light/dark box;
  • open field;
  • inbred strain

The literature surrounding rodent models of human anxiety disorders is discrepant concerning which models reflect anxiety-like behavior distinct from general activity and whether different models are measuring the same underlying constructs. This experiment compared the responses of 15 inbred mouse strains (129S1/SvlmJ, A/J, AKR/J, BALB/cByJ, C3H/HeJ, C57BL/6J, C57L/J, CBA/J, CE/J, DBA/2J, FVB/NJ, NZB/B1NJ, PL/J, SJL/J and SWR/J) in three anxiety-like behavioral tasks (light/dark test, elevated zero-maze and open field) to examine whether responses were phenotypically and/or genetically correlated across tasks. Significant strain differences were found for all variables examined. Principal components analyses showed that variables associated with both activity and anxiety-like behaviors loaded onto one factor, while urination and defecation loaded onto another factor. Our findings differ from previous research by suggesting that general activity and anxiety-related behaviors are linked, negatively correlated and cannot easily be dissociated in these assays. However, these findings may not necessarily generalize to other unconditioned anxiety-like behavioral tests.