Light Phase Testing of Social Behaviors: Not a Problem

Mu Yang, Michael D. Weber, Jacqueline N. Crawley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The rich repertoire of mouse social behaviors makes it possible to use mouse models to study neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by social deficits. The fact that mice are naturally nocturnal animals raises a critical question of whether behavioral experiments should be strictly conducted in the dark phase and whether light phase testing is a major methodologically mistake. Although mouse social tasks have been performed in both phases in different laboratories, there seems to be no general consensus on whether testing phase is a critical factor or not. A recent study from our group showed remarkably similar social scores obtained from inbred mice tested in the light and the dark phase, providing evidence that light phase testing could yield reliable results as robust as dark phase testing for the sociability test. Here we offer a comprehensive review on mouse social behaviors measured in light and dark phases and explain why it is reasonable to test laboratory mice in experimental social tasks in the light phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-191
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 15 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • circadian cycles
  • inbred mouse strains
  • light phase testing
  • nocturnal
  • social behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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