Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Modeling Anxiety-Induced Avoidance in Rats

Publication Date

Spring 4-21-2022


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Timothy Schoenfeld

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation


Anxiety is an aversive emotional state that negatively impacts human decision-making and behavioral, as the desire to remain in familiar environments overrides experiencing new situations and activities (Lang et al. 2015). To study the way anxiety toward aversive stimuli induces avoidance, we designed a study to test irrational behavior away from aversive stimuli in rodents. Rats were first trained to take one of two unequal routes to a reward in a flexible maze environment. One route was short, and one route was 4x longer. During this period, all rats were independently stressed twice in restraint tubes for 30 minutes each to develop aversive conditioning with the Plexiglas tubes. After demonstrating that rats would choose the shorter path more often than the longer path to reward, rats again chose between the two routes, but an open and passable restraint tube was placed in the path of the short maze near to the reward, to test whether rats would choose the longer, more effortful path to avoid the aversive stimulus. Rats initially avoided the restraint tube but within three days, learned to pass through the tube to overcome their conditioned avoidance.

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