Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Psychopharmacology

pp 1-6

Date: Latest Version

Active Avoidance

  • Marie-Louise G. WadenbergAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Sciences, Linnaeus University Email author 


Conditioned avoidance response; One-/two-way active avoidance


Active avoidance refers to experimental behavioral paradigms where subjects (mainly rodents) are trained, following the onset of a conditioned stimulus (CS), to move from a starting position to another position in the testing apparatus within a fixed amount of time (avoidance). Failure to move within the given time frame results in the onset of a negative reinforcer, usually a weak electric shock in a grid floor, until a correct move is performed (escape). In animals performing at a high level of correct response following training, drugs that are effective as antipsychotics, but not other classes of drugs, show a unique ability to selectively suppress the avoidance behavior, within a clinically relevant dose range, while leaving escape behavior intact. Because of this robust marker for the prediction of antipsychotic activity, the active avoidance test is primarily used and considered an important screening ...

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