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Natural animal models of human psychiatric conditions: assessment of mechanism and validity.

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Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-6010, USA.


1. The classic animal models for human psychiatric conditions involves rodents. As prey species, their normal behaviors of avoidance would be considered pathological in humans and dogs. Hence, such models may not be homologous for similar behaviors found in psychiatric pathology in humans. 2. Dogs exhibit pathological behavioral conditions that may be equivalent to certain human psychiatric conditions. These canine conditions appear spontaneously or endogenously in the absence of genetic or neurochemcial manipulation, and as such, may be homologous to the human condition. 3. If canine conditions approach homology with human conditions they should have excellent face, predictive, and construct validity. 4. The canine conditions of separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, cognitive dysfunction, dominance aggression, and panic disorder have good to excellent validity at all explored levels for human generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer's disease, impulse control disorders, and panic disorder. 5. Natural canine models can aid our understanding of human psychiatric conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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