Neurobiology of rodent self-grooming and its value for translational neuroscience

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2016 Jan;17(1):45-59. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2015.8. Epub 2015 Dec 17.


Self-grooming is a complex innate behaviour with an evolutionarily conserved sequencing pattern and is one of the most frequently performed behavioural activities in rodents. In this Review, we discuss the neurobiology of rodent self-grooming, and we highlight studies of rodent models of neuropsychiatric disorders--including models of autism spectrum disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder--that have assessed self-grooming phenotypes. We suggest that rodent self-grooming may be a useful measure of repetitive behaviour in such models, and therefore of value to translational psychiatry. Assessment of rodent self-grooming may also be useful for understanding the neural circuits that are involved in complex sequential patterns of action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Grooming / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurobiology*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / genetics
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / physiopathology*