Behavioral neuroimaging is a rapidly evolving discipline that represents a marriage between the fields of behavioral neuroscience and preclinical molecular imaging. This union highlights the changing role of imaging in translational research. Techniques developed for humans are now widely applied in the study of animal models of brain disorders such as drug addiction. Small animal or preclinical imaging allows us to interrogate core features of addiction from both behavioral and biological endpoints. Snapshots of brain activity allow us to better understand changes in brain function and behavior associated with initial drug exposure, the emergence of drug escalation, and repeated bouts of drug withdrawal and relapse. Here we review the development and validation of new behavioral imaging paradigms and several clinically relevant radiotracers used to capture dynamic molecular events in behaving animals. We will discuss ways in which behavioral imaging protocols can be optimized to increase throughput and quantitative methods. Finally, we discuss our experience with the practical aspects of behavioral neuroimaging, so investigators can utilize effective animal models to better understand the addicted brain and behavior.
- Behavioral neuroimaging
- Functional neuroimaging
- Positron emission tomograph (PET)
- Resting state