DREADDS: Use and application in behavioral neuroscience

Behav Neurosci. 2016 Apr;130(2):137-55. doi: 10.1037/bne0000135. Epub 2016 Feb 25.


Technological advances over the last decade are changing the face of behavioral neuroscience research. Here we review recent work on the use of one such transformative tool in behavioral neuroscience research, chemogenetics (or Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs, DREADDS). As transformative technologies such as DREADDs are introduced, applied, and refined, their utility in addressing complex questions about behavior and cognition becomes clear and exciting. In the behavioral neuroscience field, remarkable new findings now regularly appear as a result of the ability to monitor and intervene in neural processes with high anatomical precision as animals behave in complex task environments. As these new tools are applied to behavioral questions, individualized procedures for their use find their way into diverse labs. Thus, "tips of the trade" become important for wide dissemination not only for laboratories that are using the tools but also for those who are interested in incorporating them into their own work. Our aim is to provide an up-to-date perspective on how the DREADD technique is being used for research on learning and memory, decision making, and goal-directed behavior, as well as to provide suggestions and considerations for current and future users based on our collective experience. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Designer Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Motivation / drug effects
  • Neurosciences / methods*
  • Reward
  • Signal Transduction


  • Designer Drugs