The creation and use of a positron emission tomography (PET) imaging
device small enough for rats to wear is reported online this week in
PET is a nuclear imaging technique that uses injections of
trace amounts of radiopharmaceuticals to perform whole-brain
functional studies. This technology allows for whole-brain imaging of
awake, freely moving rats and opens up the possibility of
simultaneously assessing brain function and behavior in rodents.
Although in humans it is relatively straightforward to
measure behavioral and functional consequences of cognitive,
pharmacologic or environmental challenges this has not been easy
duplicated in rodents because they cannot ‘stay still’ inside an
imaging scanner without the use of anesthetics, physical restraint or
Paul Vaska and colleagues have now engineered a miniature
PET scanner that rats can wear while freely moving inside a chamber.
This system allows PET imaging with simultaneous collection of
behavioral data and can be used in a variety of experimental challenge
paradigms―such as studying sex differences between rats or how
different drugs affect the brain.