Structured evaluation of rodent behavioral tests used in drug discovery research

Front Behav Neurosci. 2014 Jul 22;8:252. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00252. eCollection 2014.


A large variety of rodent behavioral tests are currently being used to evaluate traits such as sensory-motor function, social interactions, anxiety-like and depressive-like behavior, substance dependence and various forms of cognitive function. Most behavioral tests have an inherent complexity, and their use requires consideration of several aspects such as the source of motivation in the test, the interaction between experimenter and animal, sources of variability, the sensory modality required by the animal to solve the task as well as costs and required work effort. Of particular importance is a test's validity because of its influence on the chance of successful translation of preclinical results to clinical settings. High validity may, however, have to be balanced against practical constraints and there are no behavioral tests with optimal characteristics. The design and development of new behavioral tests is therefore an ongoing effort and there are now well over one hundred tests described in the contemporary literature. Some of them are well established following extensive use, while others are novel and still unproven. The task of choosing a behavioral test for a particular project may therefore be daunting and the aim of the present review is to provide a structured way to evaluate rodent behavioral tests aimed at drug discovery research.

Keywords: animal behavior; mice; phenotyping; rats; translational medicine.

Publication types

  • Review