The circadian Clock mutation increases exploratory activity and escape-seeking behavior

A. Easton*, J. Arbuzova, F. W. Turek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Disturbances of circadian rhythms are associated with many types of mood disorders; however, it is unknown whether a dysfunctional circadian pacemaker can be the primary cause of altered emotional behavior. To test this hypothesis, male and female mice carrying a mutation of the circadian gene, Clock, were compared to wild-type mice in an array of behavioral tests used to measure exploratory activity, anxiety, and behavioral despair. Female Clock mutant mice exhibited significantly greater activity and rearing in an open field and a greater number of total arm entries in the elevated plus maze. In addition, female Clock mutant mice spent significantly more time swimming in the forced swim test than wildtype mice on both days of a 2-day test. Male Clock mutant mice also exhibited increased exploration of the open field and increased swimming in the forced swim test; however, behavioral changes were less robust in Clock mutant males compared to Clock mutant females. These changes in behavior were not dependent on the expression of a lengthened free-running period but were more or less striking depending on the testing conditions. These data indicate that the Clock mutation leads to increased exploratory behavior and increased escape-seeking behavior, and, conversely, does not result in increased anxiety or depressive-like behavior. These results suggest that the Clock gene is involved in regulating behavioral arousal, and that Clock may interact with sex hormones to produce these behavioral changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003


  • Activity
  • Arousal
  • Behavior
  • Circadian
  • Emotion
  • Mice
  • Sexual differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'The circadian Clock mutation increases exploratory activity and escape-seeking behavior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this