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Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2011;7:149-85. doi: 10.1007/7854_2010_102.

Animal models of ADHD.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EB, UK,


Studies employing animal models of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) present clear inherent advantages over human studies. Animal models are invaluable tools for the study of underlying neurochemical, neuropathological and genetic alterations that cause ADHD, because they allow relatively fast, rigorous hypothesis testing and invasive manipulations as well as selective breeding. Moreover, especially for ADHD, animal models with good predictive validity would allow the assessment of potential new therapeutics. In this chapter, we describe and comment on the most frequently used animal models of ADHD that have been created by genetic, neurochemical and physical alterations in rodents. We then discuss that an emerging and promising direction of the field is the analysis of individual behavioural differences among a normal population of animals. Subjects presenting extreme characteristics related to ADHD can be studied, thereby avoiding some of the problems that are found in other models, such as functional recovery and unnecessary assumptions about aetiology. This approach is justified by the theoretical need to consider human ADHD as the extreme part of a spectrum of characteristics that are distributed normally in the general population, as opposed to the predominant view of ADHD as a separate pathological category.

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