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About this Research Topic

Abstract Submission Deadline 31 March 2023
Manuscript Submission Deadline 31 July 2023

Reproducibility, sometimes referred to as replicability, is the process of obtaining consistent results across studies designed to answer the same scientific question, each of which obtained its own data. It is, therefore, a vital aspect of scientific development.

This is particularly important when it comes to assessing and studying behavior and behavior-related disorders because the lack of reproducibility across multiple attempts/studies may imply ethical issues pertaining to harm/benefit or risk/benefit analyses which are central to the use of animals for research. As the behavioral neuroscience field relies on experimentation on living organisms, including rodents, fish, invertebrates, and non-human primates, multiple failures to replicate an experimental result may suggest that a great number of lives are wasted for little benefit. In addition, studying behavior-related disorders commonly implies inducing morphological, emotional, and/or cognitive disabilities in the animals, followed by exposure to stressful environmental contexts. Thus, improving reproducibility in the field is mandatory, not only to improve the research output’s quality but also to reduce the unnecessary use of laboratory animals.

We are currently witnessing what is being defined as the reproducibility/replication crisis. This has been attributed to different types of experimental bias, starting from the experimental design that sometimes is based on insufficient knowledge of the scientific method, errors introduced with the inappropriate practice of planning statistical analyses a posteriori, lack of confirmatory studies, and massive production of exploratory ones (with poor sampling effort), and insufficient transparency resulting in unclear/inappropriate description of methods and results reported in the publications.


The scientific literature on which reproducibility is based suffers as well from a publication bias being often characterized by a lack in negative results’ presentation, whilst positive results’ publication remains the main focus. While journals, funding agencies and institutional systems seem to be major contributors for publication bias, confirmation bias also appears to play a role in it, where the experimental results presented hardly ever reject the studies’ hypotheses.

With the advent of new model organisms being introduced in behavioral neuroscience and the translational relevance that cross-species studies potentially have, it is important that the scientific community re-thinks how projects are being planned and run. It is necessary to revisit the scientific method literature and to discuss how to make methods more reliable and results more replicable.

To provide a critical evaluation of the state of research in the field of Behavioral Neuroscience, this Research Topic solicits the submission of Opinion and Perspective articles that provide a thorough analysis of the current challenges, latest discoveries, methodological implementations, and future directions in behavioral neuroscience.

The aim is to collectively reduce experimental bias and improve experimental reproducibility and reliability when planning, conducting, and analyzing the outputs of a scientific experiment that should be replicable both in terms of methods and results.

We welcome opinion and perspective articles addressing the following focal points:

· Adherence to the 3Rs principle (replace reduce refine) to promote animal models’ welfare – what is new, which are the potential caveats and misinterpretations, and what could we improve
· Technical and species (strains)-specific limitations of behavioral assays: animal models and studied behaviors – what can be improved and novel propositions to define behaviors and underlying mechanisms
· Animal models’ welfare through environmental enrichment: a fundamental aspect improving the quality of behavioral neuroscience studies. Species (strains)-specific needs (diurnal vs nocturnal, species-specific environmental optimal conditions, population density conditions, social behavior knowledge)
· Environmental enrichment: how changing the paradigm from environmental standardization to environmental heterogenization can influence reproducibility in animal experimentation.
· Species(strains)-specific needs: knowledge of the biology of laboratory animals for the selection of the best possible experimental approach
· Behavioral paradigms. When animal models do not meet the assumptions
· Behavioral variables and measures – how to rigorously evaluate and extrapolate data connecting it to specific behaviors
· Opinion and perspectives on adherence to legislation, guidelines, and ethical principles in animal research may guide more rigorous behavioral studies
· Suitable statistical methods for study design and data analysis

Keywords: reproducibility, animal models, study design, data analysis, experimental bias, replicability, environmental enrichment, animal welfare


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Reproducibility, sometimes referred to as replicability, is the process of obtaining consistent results across studies designed to answer the same scientific question, each of which obtained its own data. It is, therefore, a vital aspect of scientific development.

This is particularly important when it comes to assessing and studying behavior and behavior-related disorders because the lack of reproducibility across multiple attempts/studies may imply ethical issues pertaining to harm/benefit or risk/benefit analyses which are central to the use of animals for research. As the behavioral neuroscience field relies on experimentation on living organisms, including rodents, fish, invertebrates, and non-human primates, multiple failures to replicate an experimental result may suggest that a great number of lives are wasted for little benefit. In addition, studying behavior-related disorders commonly implies inducing morphological, emotional, and/or cognitive disabilities in the animals, followed by exposure to stressful environmental contexts. Thus, improving reproducibility in the field is mandatory, not only to improve the research output’s quality but also to reduce the unnecessary use of laboratory animals.

We are currently witnessing what is being defined as the reproducibility/replication crisis. This has been attributed to different types of experimental bias, starting from the experimental design that sometimes is based on insufficient knowledge of the scientific method, errors introduced with the inappropriate practice of planning statistical analyses a posteriori, lack of confirmatory studies, and massive production of exploratory ones (with poor sampling effort), and insufficient transparency resulting in unclear/inappropriate description of methods and results reported in the publications.


The scientific literature on which reproducibility is based suffers as well from a publication bias being often characterized by a lack in negative results’ presentation, whilst positive results’ publication remains the main focus. While journals, funding agencies and institutional systems seem to be major contributors for publication bias, confirmation bias also appears to play a role in it, where the experimental results presented hardly ever reject the studies’ hypotheses.

With the advent of new model organisms being introduced in behavioral neuroscience and the translational relevance that cross-species studies potentially have, it is important that the scientific community re-thinks how projects are being planned and run. It is necessary to revisit the scientific method literature and to discuss how to make methods more reliable and results more replicable.

To provide a critical evaluation of the state of research in the field of Behavioral Neuroscience, this Research Topic solicits the submission of Opinion and Perspective articles that provide a thorough analysis of the current challenges, latest discoveries, methodological implementations, and future directions in behavioral neuroscience.

The aim is to collectively reduce experimental bias and improve experimental reproducibility and reliability when planning, conducting, and analyzing the outputs of a scientific experiment that should be replicable both in terms of methods and results.

We welcome opinion and perspective articles addressing the following focal points:

· Adherence to the 3Rs principle (replace reduce refine) to promote animal models’ welfare – what is new, which are the potential caveats and misinterpretations, and what could we improve
· Technical and species (strains)-specific limitations of behavioral assays: animal models and studied behaviors – what can be improved and novel propositions to define behaviors and underlying mechanisms
· Animal models’ welfare through environmental enrichment: a fundamental aspect improving the quality of behavioral neuroscience studies. Species (strains)-specific needs (diurnal vs nocturnal, species-specific environmental optimal conditions, population density conditions, social behavior knowledge)
· Environmental enrichment: how changing the paradigm from environmental standardization to environmental heterogenization can influence reproducibility in animal experimentation.
· Species(strains)-specific needs: knowledge of the biology of laboratory animals for the selection of the best possible experimental approach
· Behavioral paradigms. When animal models do not meet the assumptions
· Behavioral variables and measures – how to rigorously evaluate and extrapolate data connecting it to specific behaviors
· Opinion and perspectives on adherence to legislation, guidelines, and ethical principles in animal research may guide more rigorous behavioral studies
· Suitable statistical methods for study design and data analysis

Keywords: reproducibility, animal models, study design, data analysis, experimental bias, replicability, environmental enrichment, animal welfare


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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