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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Sep 2023 - 15 Sep 2023

Basic Science, Methodology, Psychology

Animal Studies, Neurobiology

Acute Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities


PLoS One




A systematic review and meta-analysis of thigmotactic behaviour in the open field test in rodent models associated with persistent pain.


Zhang XY, Diaz-delCastillo M, Kong L, Daniels N, MacIntosh-Smith W, Abdallah A, Domanski D, Sofrenovic D, Yeung TPS, Valiente D, Vollert J, Sena E, Rice AS, Soliman N


Thigmotaxis is an innate predator avoidance behaviour of rodents. To gain insight into how injury and disease models, and analgesic drug treatments affect thigmotaxis, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that assessed thigmotaxis in the open field test. Systematic searches were conducted of 3 databases in October 2020, March and August 2022. Study design characteristics and experimental data were extracted and analysed using a random-effects meta-analysis. We also assessed the correlation between thigmotaxis and stimulus-evoked limb withdrawal. This review included the meta-analysis of 165 studies We report thigmotaxis was increased in injury and disease models associated with persistent pain and this increase was attenuated by analgesic drug treatments in both rat and mouse experiments. Its usefulness, however, may be limited in certain injury and disease models because our analysis suggested that thigmotaxis may be associated with the locomotor function. We also conducted subgroup analyses and meta-regression, but our findings on sources of heterogeneity are inconclusive because analyses were limited by insufficient available data. It was difficult to assess internal validity because reporting of methodological quality measures was poor, therefore, the studies have an unclear risk of bias. The correlation between time in the centre (type of a thigmotactic metric) and types of stimulus-evoked limb withdrawal was inconsistent. Therefore, stimulus-evoked and ethologically relevant behavioural paradigms should be viewed as two separate entities as they are conceptually and methodologically different from each other.