Laboratory rodents have long been used to as a model for mammalian brain development and function.The similarity in nervous system organization and function across mammalian species makes rodents a favored system for modeling human neurological disease.
Mice provide a powerful system for genetic manipulation, with well-developed knockout and transgenic technology. With the development of optical manipulation of neuronal activity, coupled with cell-specific gene expression via Cre-Lox technology, the mouse is clearly at the forefront of circuit mapping of brain function. Real-time imaging of neuronal activity and structure in live animals is transforming the field of molecular and systems neuroscience. In addition, rodents, especially rats, provide an excellent model for studying the brain circuits underlying many fundamental animal behaviors. Together with multi-electrode recording technology that has been perfected in awake behaving rats, the rodent models are at the forefront of molecular and cellular neuroscience research.