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Physiol Behav. 1998 Nov; 65(2): 247-54.

Modulation of mice anxiety in response to cat odor as a consequence of predators diet.

Berton F, Vogel E, Belzung C.

LEPCO, UFR Sciences et Techniques, Tours, France.

The effectiveness of predator odours as repellents was assessed, and the behavioral antipredatory responses were characterized. Mice had free access to an unfamiliar runway containing different olfactory stimuli: modelling clay, or feces of a cat subjected either to a vegetarian or a carnivorous diet. The first experiment revealed various indices of a spontaneous behavioral pattern that included exploratory activity, different kinds of emotionality, and a range of active or passive defensive reactions until the appearance of absence of risk assessment strictly related to presence or absence of anxiety. These reactions differ with larger responses to feces resulting from a carnivorous as opposed to vegetarian diets. In the second experiment, chlordiazepoxide (0, 2.5, 5, or 7.5 mg/kg) had a dose-related anxiolytic effect on exploration in mice of both vegetarian and carnivorous groups but could not totally reverse the strong anxiogenic effect of carnivorous stimulus on defensive mechanisms. These differences are related to the nature of the mammalian cues. This paradigm may be a fear-motivated model of animal anxiety.


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