Estimating wall guidance and attraction in mouse free locomotor behavior

G. Horev*, Y. Benjamini, A. Sakov, I. Golani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we estimate the influence exerted by the wall of the Open Field on the trajectory of the mouse. The wall exerts two types of influence on the mouse's path: one of guidance and one of attraction. The guiding influence is expressed by the tendency of mice to progress in parallel to the wall. This tendency wanes with increasing distance from the wall but is observed at large distances from it. The more parallel the mouse is to the wall the higher is its speed, even when distant from the wall. This association between heading direction and speed shows that the mouse controls its heading in reference to the wall. It is also observed in some blind strains, revealing that wall-guidance is not based exclusively on vision. The attraction influence is reflected by movement along the wall and by the asymmetry between speed during movement toward, and during movement away from the wall: sighted mice move faster toward the wall, whereas blind mice use similar speeds in both directions. Measures characterizing these influences are presented for five inbred strains, revealing heritable components that are replicable across laboratories. The revealed structure can lead to the identification of distinct groups of genes that mediate the distinct influences of guidance and attraction exerted by the wall. It can also serve as a framework for the decoding of electrophysiological data recorded in free moving rodents in the Open Field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-41
Number of pages12
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Heading direction
  • Navigation
  • Open field
  • Phenotyping
  • Spatial orientation
  • Thigmotaxis


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