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Crayfish get anxious, too

Shock a crustacean, and its subsequent behavior changes

2:00pm, June 12, 2014

LIGHT SHY  Stressed, anxious crayfish spend less time exploring well-lit areas, a new study finds. 

Crayfish under duress show signs of anxiety, scientists report in the June 13 Science. The results provide clear evidence of the complex behavior in invertebrates and hint at anxiety’s ancient origins.

To look for signs of fretting, French researchers watched the lobsterlike crustaceans explore a cross-shaped tank that had two dark arms and two lit ones. Crayfish preferred the safety afforded by the dark, but they also occasionally explored the illuminated arms. However, compared with normal crayfish, animals subjected to a series of stressful shocks before entering the tank spent less time exploring lit areas and more time huddled in the dark.

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