A hitchhiker's guide to behavioral analysis in laboratory rodents

Genes Brain Behav. 2006:5 Suppl 2:5-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2006.00228.x.


Genes and environment are both essential and interdependent determinants of behavioral responses. Behavioral genetics focuses on the role of genes on behavior. In this article, we aim to provide a succinct, but comprehensive, overview of the different means through which behavioral analysis may be performed in rodents. We give general recommendations for planning and performing behavioral experiments in rats and mice, followed by brief descriptions of experimental paradigms most commonly used for the analysis of reflexes, sensory function, motor function and exploratory, social, emotional and cognitive behavior. We end with a discussion of some of the shortcomings of current concepts of genetic determinism and argue that the genetic basis of behavior should be analyzed in the context of environmental factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Environment
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Genetics, Behavioral / methods*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / genetics*
  • Rats
  • Research Design / standards
  • Social Behavior
  • Stereotyped Behavior / physiology