Open-field behavior of house mice selectively bred for high voluntary wheel-running

Anne M. Bronikowski, Patrick A. Carter, John G. Swallow, Isabelle A. Girard, Justin S. Rhodes, Theodore Garland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Open-field behavioral assays are commonly used to test both locomotor activity and emotionality in rodents. We performed open-field tests on house mice (Mus domesticus) from four replicate lines genetically selected for high voluntary wheel-running for 22 generations and from four replicate random-bred control lines. Individual mice were recorded by video camera for 3 min in a 1-m2 open-field arena on 2 consecutive days. Mice from selected lines showed no statistical differences from control mice with respect to distance traveled, defecation, time spent in the interior, or average distance from the center of the arena during the trial. Thus, we found little evidence that open-field behavior, as traditionally defined, is genetically correlated with wheel-running behavior. This result is a useful converse test of classical studies that report no increased wheel-running in mice selected for increased open-field activity. However, mice from selected lines turned less in their travel paths than did control-line mice, and females from selected lines had slower travel times (longer latencies) to reach the wall. We discuss these results in the context of the historical open-field test and newly defined measures of open-field activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-316
Number of pages8
JournalBehavior genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Correlated response
  • Emotionality
  • Exercise
  • Open-field activity
  • Selective breeding
  • Wheel-running.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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