Genetics of Mouse Behavior: Interactions with Laboratory Environment

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Strains of mice that show characteristic patterns of behavior are critical for research in neurobehavioral genetics.Possible confounding influences of the laboratory environment were studied in several inbred strains and one null mutant by simultaneous testing in three laboratories on a battery of six behaviors. Apparatus, test protocols, and many environmental variables were rigorously equated. Strains differed markedly in all behaviors, and despite standardization, there were systematic differences in behavior across labs. For some tests, the magnitude of genetic differences depended upon the specific testing lab. Thus, experiments characterizing mutants may yield results that are idiosyncratic to a particular laboratory.

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