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Elevated Plus Maze for humans

Ref-Nr: TA-UKE272


We are presenting an innovative system for the behavioral study of individuals (with its main application on fear and anxiety-related behavior). We allow for the first time such studies in human by means of virtual reality.


The dearth of laboratory tests to study actual human approach-avoidance behaviour has complicated translational research of anxiety.

The elevated plus-maze (EPM) is the gold standard to assess approachavoidance behaviour and the efficacy of anti-anxiety drugs in rodents. It has been used in over 8500 research studies so far.

An EPM poses serious safety and technical issues in a hypothetical use in humans, due to the required elevated testing platform.

We are offering a new tool, merging the traditional concept with Virtual Reality, to overcome these limitations and enable the EPM test in humans.


The conventional EPM test is based on a physical cross, where the animal is placed on. The exploration time of open arms of the EPM is one of the best measures for anxiety in mammals. This general test scheme meets, in our technology, VR.

Through the combination of physical and VR features, we have a unique stimuli source, including physical, aural and visual inputs, which allow augmenting the actual test area.

Regular VR-goggles, conveniently adapted to this task, permit influencing the participant’s perception of the test area.

The newly developed software controls the parameters and triggers the stimuli, thus permitting a flexible configuration of the test conditions.

The software also monitors the participant’s position, viewing direction and movements through an innovative, specifically designed calibration instrument, which is integrated in the platform.

Our innovation overcomes the limitations of current alternatives and pushes behavioural tests forward by enabling behavioural testing in relevant and real-life-related situations.


The study of fear and anxiety has some limitations, due to lack of suitable tools & methods. Indeed, psychiatric conditions present two core dimensions in the patient: behavioural changes and individual suffering.

Actual human anxiety-related behavior could, however, not be studied until today. Thus, it was required to either run the tests in lab animals and extrapolate the results afterwards, with obvious limitations; or reduce the tests to the study of behaviour proxies (i.e., joystick-movements or eye-tracking).

In this sense, different relevant fields could profit from our innovative solution:

  • Behavioural research
  • Neuroscience/Diagnosis
  • Pharmaceutical industry


  • Virtual reality
  • Behavioral tests & research
  • Emotional testing (fear, anxiety...)
  • Pharma research


  • R&D cooperation
  • Transfer of rights
  • Licensing


Dr. Francisco Blanco
Harburger Schloßstraße 6-12
21079 Hamburg




  • PCT anhängig


Elevated Plus Maze, Software control, Behavioral testing in ecologically relevant situations

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TransferAllianz e. V.
Christiane Bach-Kaienburg

c/o PROvendis GmbH
Schloßstr. 11-15
D-45468 Mülheim an der Ruhr