Simultaneous assessment of rodent behavior and neurochemistry using a miniature positron emission tomograph

Nat Methods. 2011 Apr;8(4):347-52. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1582. Epub 2011 Mar 13.


Positron emission tomography (PET) neuroimaging and behavioral assays in rodents are widely used in neuroscience. PET gives insights into the molecular processes of neuronal communication, and behavioral methods analyze the actions that are associated with such processes. These methods have not been directly integrated, because PET studies in animals have until now required general anesthesia to immobilize the subject, which precludes behavioral studies. We present a method for imaging awake, behaving rats with PET that allows the simultaneous study of behavior. Key components include the 'rat conscious animal PET' or RatCAP, a miniature portable PET scanner that is mounted on the rat's head, a mobility system that allows considerable freedom of movement, radiotracer administration techniques and methods for quantifying behavior and correlating the two data sets. The simultaneity of the PET and behavioral data provides a multidimensional tool for studying the functions of different brain regions and their molecular constituents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / instrumentation*
  • Rats / physiology*