Decerebrate mouse model for studies of the spinal cord circuits

Nat Protoc. 2017 Apr;12(4):732-747. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2017.001. Epub 2017 Mar 9.


The adult decerebrate mouse model (a mouse with the cerebrum removed) enables the study of sensory-motor integration and motor output from the spinal cord for several hours without compromising these functions with anesthesia. For example, the decerebrate mouse is ideal for examining locomotor behavior using intracellular recording approaches, which would not be possible using current anesthetized preparations. This protocol describes the steps required to achieve a low-blood-loss decerebration in the mouse and approaches for recording signals from spinal cord neurons with a focus on motoneurons. The protocol also describes an example application for the protocol: the evocation of spontaneous and actively driven stepping, including optimization of these behaviors in decerebrate mice. The time taken to prepare the animal and perform a decerebration takes ∼2 h, and the mice are viable for up to 3-8 h, which is ample time to perform most short-term procedures. These protocols can be modified for those interested in cardiovascular or respiratory function in addition to motor function and can be performed by trainees with some previous experience in animal surgery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebrum*
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal*
  • Nerve Net / cytology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spinal Cord / cytology*