Neurological disease drives symptoms through pathological changes to circuit functions. Therefore, understanding circuit mechanisms that drive behavioral dysfunction is of critical importance for quantitative diagnosis and systematic treatment of neurological disease. Here, we describe key technologies that enable measurement and manipulation of neural activity and neural circuits. Applying these approaches led to the discovery of circuit mechanisms underlying pathological motor behavior, arousal regulation, and protein accumulation. Finally, we discuss how optogenetic functional magnetic resonance imaging reveals global scale circuit mechanisms, and how circuit manipulations could lead to new treatments of neurological diseases.