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Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2011;7:359-83. doi: 10.1007/7854_2010_112.

The pig as a model animal for studying cognition and neurobehavioral disorders.

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Program 'Emotion and Cognition', Department of Farm Animal Health, Veterinary Faculty, Utrecht University, 80166, Utrecht, 3508 TD, The Netherlands.


In experimental animal research, a short phylogenetic distance, i.e., high resemblance between the model species and the species to be modeled is expected to increase the relevance and generalizability of results obtained in the model species. The (mini)pig shows multiple advantageous characteristics that have led to an increase in the use of this species in studies modeling human medical issues, including neurobehavioral (dys)functions. For example, the cerebral cortex of pigs, unlike that of mice or rats, has cerebral convolutions (gyri and sulci) similar to the human neocortex. We expect that appropriately chosen pig models will yield results of high translational value. However, this claim still needs to be substantiated by research, and the area of pig research is still in its infancy. This chapter provides an overview of the pig as a model species for studying cognitive dysfunctions and neurobehavioral disorders and their treatment, along with a discussion of the pros and cons of various tests, as an aid to researchers considering the use of pigs as model animal species in biomedical research.

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