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Using rodents for modeling Self-Injurious Behaviour


Self-injurious behaviour(SIB) is referred to any kind of behaviour that can cause harm to body tissues without the intention of attempting suicide, such as cutting, scraping, burning, biting or hitting. It's also a severe problem in retarded and autistic children and some genetically inherited diseases like Lesch-Nyhan syndrome.

Materials and methods

As it's difficult to study abnormal psychological behaviours in humans because of different or unknown backgrounds, it's not uncommon to have animal models to study disorders in a controlled situation. For SIB the most models used are rodents (rats and mice) though there's been reports of SIB in captive rhesus monkeys. Drugs used to induce this behaviour in rodents are pemoline [1], amphetamine, caffeine [2] & clonidine [3].


Studys show that SIB can be induced in rodents by increasing the levels of dopamine, glutamate [4] and opiates and decreasing serotonin in central nervous system.


Though the mechanisms for SIB are still unknown, it's thought that dopamine has the main role in causing it.


  1. 1.

    Bhattacharya SK, Jaiswal AK, Mukhopadhyay M, Datla KP: Clonidine-induced automutilation in mice as a laboratory model for clinical self-injurious behaviour. J Psychiatr Res. 1988, 22 (1): 43-50. 10.1016/0022-3956(88)90027-1.

  2. 2.

    King BH, Cromwell HC, Lee HT, Behrstock SP, Schmanke T, Maidment NT: Dopaminergic and glutamatergic interactions in the expression of self-injurious behavior. Dev Neurosci. 1998, 20 (2-3): 180-187. 10.1159/000017312.

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    Mueller K, Nyhan WL: Pharmacologic control of pemoline induced self-injurious behavior in rats. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1982, 16 (6): 957-963. 10.1016/0091-3057(82)90052-1. Jun

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    Mueller K, Saboda S, Palmour R, Nyhan WL: Self-injurious behavior produced in rats by daily caffeine and continuous amphetamine. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1982, 17 (4): 613-617. 10.1016/0091-3057(82)90332-X. Oct,

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Correspondence to Mehrnoosh Jafari.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Jafari, M. Using rodents for modeling Self-Injurious Behaviour. Ann Gen Psychiatry 7, S290 (2008).

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  • Central Nervous System
  • Animal Model
  • Dopamine
  • Glutamate
  • Serotonin