The Page includes general practices that inform decisions on the appropriate behavioral control group(s) for your studies. More complex experiments may require multiple control groups.

  • For genotype-phenotyping experiments: littermate controls. Optimal controls are derived from breeding crosses that result in wild types and mutants/transgenics in the same litters to control for litter effects.
  • For drug studies: vehicle controls. If multiple drugs are used with different vehicles, controls receiving vehicle should be used.
  • For dam-exposure drug studies: vehicle controls and litters should be culled to control for effects of litter-size. Multiple litters from dams with the same exposure are required to account for litter effects which in this design are conflated with exposure.
  • When littermates cannot be used, strain-matched, wild type controls are best if they come from an existing WUSM vivarium; ordering from a vendor like Jackson Labs to couple with experimental animals bred in the WUSM vivarium should be avoided.
  • For elegant genetic studies, such as those involving the Cre-Lox strategy or tamoxifen inducible models, controls for the presence of Cre, loxP sites, and/or tamoxifen may be required depending on behavioral tests conducted and the animal lines used. These factors have been shown to independently influence behavior under certain circumstances.

We provide free consultation on appropriate controls.