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 studying analogues of human neurological disease.
Mice provide a powerful system for genetic manipulation, with well-developed knockout and transgenic technology. The development of optical manipulation of neuronal activity, coupled with cell-specific gene expression via Cre-Lox technology, have placed the mouse 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. The multitude of techniques and manipulations available in mice, coupled with multi-electrode recording technology that has been perfected in awake behaving rats, mean that rodent models the most common mammalian models used in molecular and cellular neuroscience research.