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Behavioural despair test

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The behavioural despair test (also called the Porsolt test or forced swimming test) is a test used to measure the effect of antidepressant drugs on the behaviour of laboratory animals (typically rats or mice).


Animals are subjected to two trials during which they are forced to swim in an acrylic glass cylinder filled with water, and from which they cannot escape. The first trial lasts 15 minutes. Then, after 24-hours, a second trial is performed that lasts 5 minutes. The time that the test animal spends without moving in the second trial is measured. This immobility time is decreased by antidepressants.


Porsolt RD, Bertin A, Jalfre M. (1977). Behavioral despair in mice: a primary screening test for antidepressants. Archives Internationales de Pharmacodynamie et de Therapie 229 (2): 327–336.

Petit-Demouliere B, Chenu F, Bourin M. (2005). Forced swimming test in mice: a review of antidepressant activity.. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 177 (3): 245–255.

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