Behaviour screen


The Behaviour Screen contributes to the GMC the assessment for exploratory, motivational, emotional, locomotor, sensory gating, olfactory function, learning and memory, stress reactivity and adult neurogenesis phenotypes.

Our research goal is the elucidation of the molecular and genetic basis of behavioural impairments that are relevant for human neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, schizophrenia, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease. We are particularly interested in understanding the precise function of adult neurogenesis.

Primary screeningIn the primary screening we assess emotional, exploratory and spontaneous locomotor behaviour in the “Open Field” Test, and sensorimotor gating by pre-pulse inhibition of the acoustic startle reflex. This renders a first indication of possible anxiety-related, locomotor and schizophrenia-related endophenotypes.

Secondary screen (at least 10 experimental and 10 control animals)

The secondary screening is hypothesis-driven and builds on the results of the primary screen. It is meant to verify and further differentiate the primary phenotype as well as to extend it to endophenotypes that are not assessed in the primary screen. The secondary screen follows a flexible workflow adjusted to the hypotheses to be tested. To this end we can apply a variety of methods:


1. Assessment of anxiety- and depression-related emotional behaviour:

  • Open Field test
  • Light-dark box test
  • Elevated Plus-Maze test
  • Social interaction test
  • Forced Swim test
  • Tail suspension test


2. Assessment of learning and memory:

  • Social discrimination test
  • Object recognition test
  • Spontaneous alternation in the Y-maze
  • Operant learning tasks
  • IntelliCage

3. Assessment of sensory and motor function:

  • Olfactory perception
  • Acoustic startle reflex and its pre-pulse inhibition
  • Accelerated Rotarod
  • Automated gait analysis (CatWalk)
  • Beam, Ladder, Vertical Pole Test

4. Challenge tests:

  • Pharmacological challenges
  • Application of different stressors and stress protocols
  • Running wheel exercise

5. Adult Neurogenesis Assessment:

  • Immunohistochemistry (DCX, Ki67, BrdU, NeuN, GFAP)
  • Microscopy (Confocal, Epifluorescence)
  • Quantitive stereological analysis


Dr. Sabine Hölter     
phone : +49 (089) 3187-3674


Dr. Lillian Garrett    
phone: +49 (089) 3187-2301

Dr. Annemarie Zimprich    
phone : +49 (089) 3187-2301

Bettina Sperling    
phone : +49 (089) 3187-3653

Jan Einicke
phone : +49 (089) 3187-2301

Expert Partner

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wurst
Institute of Developmental Genetics
HelmholtzZentrum München