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Faculty Sponsor

Corinne Kiessling

Abstract

Recently, the NIH has pushed for both sexes of a species to be incorporated into behavioral experiments. This push came as a result of an unchecked exclusion of females in experimentation. In rat studies, it is a common argument that females are more variable than males due to the presence of their estrous cycle. This study set out to evaluate this claim, and provide sex differences data for a variety of motor, anxiety, and cognitive behavioral tests. No sex differences in motor or anxiety behavior were found between the sexes. Males performed significantly better on the spontaneous alternation test of spatial memory, but had no differences on other cognitive tasks including novel object recognition and the T-maze learning test. While the estrous cycle of females was not monitored in the current study, no significant sex differences in variability of behavioral responding were found, disputing the claim that females are more variable than males. The results of this study will help to dispel the bias in rat model research, and thus encourage the production of more accurate behavioral data.

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