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Behav Brain Res. 2001 Nov 1;125(1-2):3-12.

Behavioural phenotyping of mouse mutants.

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Cognitive Neurobiology, Institute for Anatomy II, University of Köln, Joseph Stelzmann Str. 9, 50931 Cologne, Germany.


Behavioural phenotyping of mouse mutants is not a goal in itself but serves to characterise the behavioural effects of naturally occurring or experimentally induced mutations. Genetically engineered mouse mutants are valuable tools to elucidate the genetic control of behaviour and the interaction between genetic and environmental factors. However, a prerequisite for their use is the ability to assess different elements of behaviour. To this end, a battery of tests, which should be flexible enough to meet the needs of a particular study, should be used to characterise the behavioural phenotype. Detailed and extensive information about the effects of gene mutations is crucial for model building and model evaluation. Model building is an iterative process, switching between experimental data and theory formation. In order to facilitate this process and to allow comparison of results within and between laboratories, the standardisation of breeding, housing, and testing conditions is essential. The development and standardisation of sensitive, valid behavioural tests which are suited to phenotype mouse mutants is both a responsibility and a challenge to investigators of mouse behaviour.

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