Selection for increased voluntary wheel-running affects behavior and brain monoamines in mice

R. Parrish Waters, R. B. Pringle, G. L. Forster, K. J. Renner, J. L. Malisch, T. Garland, J. G. Swallow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Selective-breeding of house mice for increased voluntary wheel-running has resulted in multiple physiological and behavioral changes. Characterizing these differences may lead to experimental models that can elucidate factors involved in human diseases and disorders associated with physical inactivity, or potentially treated by physical activity, such as diabetes, obesity, and depression. Herein, we present ethological data for adult males from a line of mice that has been selectively bred for high levels of voluntary wheel-running and from a non-selected control line, housed with or without wheels. Additionally, we present concentrations of central monoamines in limbic, striatal, and midbrain regions. We monitored wheel-running for 8 weeks, and observed home-cage behavior during the last 5 weeks of the study. Mice from the selected line accumulated more revolutions per day than controls due to increased speed and duration of running. Selected mice exhibited more active behaviors than controls, regardless of wheel access, and exhibited less inactivity and grooming than controls. Selective-breeding also influenced the longitudinal patterns of behavior. We found statistically significant differences in monoamine concentrations and associated metabolites in brain regions that influence exercise and motivational state. These results suggest underlying neurochemical differences between selected and control lines that may influence the observed differences in behavior. Our results bolster the argument that selected mice can provide a useful model of human psychological and physiological diseases and disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-22
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - May 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial selection
  • Behavior
  • Dopamine
  • Motivation
  • Serotonin
  • Wheel-running

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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