Rodent Open Field


Open Field Test Protocol for Anxiety Assessment in Rodents

Rodent behavior studies are essential in the field of neuroscience, offering valuable insights into anxiety and related behaviors. The Open Field Test (OFT) is a widely utilized protocol that provides researchers with a window into the emotional state of rodents. This guide delves into the fundamental components of an OFT protocol for anxiety assessment.

Experimental Setup for the Open Field Test

Begin with a carefully controlled environment, typically a square arena with well-defined boundaries. Ensure proper lighting, maintaining consistent illumination throughout the experiment. Prioritize a low-noise environment to minimize external disturbances. Review the “Step-by-Step: Open Field Protocol for Rodents”.

Animal Selection and Habituation

Select rodents that align with your research objectives, considering age, strain, and gender. Habituation is a pivotal step—allow subjects to acclimate to the testing room beforehand. This minimizes novelty-induced stress during the test. Review our guide for animal model selection.

Open Field Test Procedure

Introduce the rodent to the open field arena and commence data collection. Observe locomotor activity, the time spent in the center versus the periphery, grooming behaviors, and rearing activity. Maintain a sufficient test duration for robust data collection.

Data Recording and Analysis

Implement reliable data recording tools to monitor behavior. Consider automated tracking software or manual coding for accurate results. Analyze parameters such as distance traveled, velocity, and the number of entries into the center zone. Calculate anxiety-related metrics like center time and distance ratio. Review our guide for automated data recording software for animal behaviors.

Interpreting Results from the Open Field Test

Draw insightful conclusions from your data. Increased time and distance spent in the center zone are often indicative of reduced anxiety, while higher levels of thigmotaxis, or wall-hugging, suggest heightened anxiety. Interpret these findings in the context of your research question.

Optimizing Your Open Field Protocol

Experiment with varying parameters to align the protocol with your research goals. Adjust arena size, lighting conditions, and habituation durations as needed. Control for potential confounding factors like circadian rhythms and experimenter bias. Contact us for assistance with protocol optimization.

Adding the Open Field Test to Your IACUC Protocol

Ensure compliance with ethical guidelines and regulatory requirements for animal research. Obtain necessary approvals from your institution’s Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or equivalent body. Contact us for a consultation or an IACUC protocol review.

Validating Findings

To enhance the reliability of your results, corroborate OFT findings with complementary behavioral assays, such as the Elevated Plus Maze or the Light-Dark Box test. Cross-validation ensures robust conclusions.


  1. Seibenhener, M. L., & Wooten, M. C. (2015). Use of the Open Field Maze to measure locomotor and anxiety-like behavior in miceJournal of visualized experiments: JoVE, (96), e52434. doi:10.3791/52434.
  2. Tatem, K. S., Quinn, J. L., Phadke, A., Yu, Q., Gordish-Dressman, H., & Nagaraju, K. (2014). Behavioral and locomotor measurements using an open field activity monitoring system for skeletal muscle diseasesJournal of visualized experiments: JoVE, (91), 51785. doi:10.3791/51785.

Additional information

Weight 57 lbs
Dimensions 50 × 50 × 38 in



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