DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhad478 ISSN: 1047-3211

Where do we stand on fMRI in awake mice?

Francesca Mandino, Stella Vujic, Joanes Grandjean, Evelyn M R Lake
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Imaging awake animals is quickly gaining traction in neuroscience as it offers a means to eliminate the confounding effects of anesthesia, difficulties of inter-species translation (when humans are typically imaged while awake), and the inability to investigate the full range of brain and behavioral states in unconscious animals. In this systematic review, we focus on the development of awake mouse blood oxygen level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Mice are widely used in research due to their fast-breeding cycle, genetic malleability, and low cost. Functional MRI yields whole-brain coverage and can be performed on both humans and animal models making it an ideal modality for comparing study findings across species. We provide an analysis of 30 articles (years 2011–2022) identified through a systematic literature search. Our conclusions include that head-posts are favorable, acclimation training for 10–14 d is likely ample under certain conditions, stress has been poorly characterized, and more standardization is needed to accelerate progress. For context, an overview of awake rat fMRI studies is also included. We make recommendations that will benefit a wide range of neuroscience applications.

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