The success of forward genetic (from phenotype to gene) approaches to uncover genes that drive the molecular mechanism of circadian clocks and control circadian behavior has been unprecedented. Links among genes, cells, neural circuits, and circadian behavior have been uncovered in the Drosophila and mammalian systems, demonstrating the feasibility of finding single genes that have major effects on behavior. Why was this approach so successful in the elucidation of circadian rhythms? This article explores the answers to this question and describes how the methods used successfully for identifying the molecular basis of circadian rhythms can be applied to other behaviors such as anxiety, addiction, and learning and memory.
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