Editorial| Volume 62, ISSUE 12, P1337-1339, December 15, 2007

From Animal Models to Model Animals

      After more than 4 decades, most psychiatrists recognize biological psychiatry as a major component of training, practice, and research in their field. By contrast, most biologists, at least behavioral biologists, would view some of the basic tenets of this field as completely alien or antiquated. Nowhere is this gap between biology and psychiatry more evident than in the concept of “animal models.” This editorial makes two points. First, it argues that biological psychiatry can learn much from modern comparative neurobiology, which studies the neural basis of species-typical behaviors rather than looking for phenocopies of human behavior. Second, it argues that traditional animal models might be mechanistically misleading, but the use of model organisms to understand the pathophysiology of mental disorders will be critical as clinical studies identify genetic alleles and cellular changes that confer risk for mental disorders.
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