Mouse behavioral phenotyping

Vootele Võikar research group

Experimental modelling of complex neurodevelopmental, neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric processes and disorders require reliable behavioral readouts and endpoints. The aim of my research is to refine the methods used for behavioral phenotyping of mice. This goal is essentially linked to the better understanding and improving the welfare of laboratory mice. For that purpose, we are monitoring and manipulating various environmental conditions in animal husbandry – e.g. housing, handling, social and physical enrichment, role of experimenter etc. The influence of husbandry procedures is routinely tested in male and female mice of several inbred and outbred strains by applying a range of conventional behavioral tests. On the other hand, we are working on refining these tests for extracting the maximal amount of information by using discrete ethograms and by adaptations to the species-specific profile. In addition to classical testing, we are using novel home cage technologies, which provide valuable but so far mostly neglected information – normal activity and behavior without disturbance by experimenters for days and weeks, covering both light and dark period of circadian cycle. These systems have a potential to capture the symptoms of disease progression or treatment earlier than conventional tests in ethologically more valid background. We believe that combination of these methods will add valuable information to basic behavioral neuroscience and laboratory animal science.


Vootele Võikar
Neuroscience Center / Laboratory Animal Center
P.O. Box 29 (Mustialankatu 1G)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
Phone: 57658 (internal), +358 50 416 0466