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Nat Med. 2015 Sep;21(9):979-88. doi: 10.1038/nm.3935.

Modeling psychiatric disorders for developing effective treatments.

Kaiser T1,2, Feng G1,2,3.

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McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


Recent advances in identifying risk-associated genes have provided unprecedented opportunities for developing animal models for psychiatric disease research with the goal of attaining translational utility to ultimately develop novel treatments. However, at this early stage, successful translation has yet to be achieved. Here we review recent advances in modeling psychiatric disease, discuss the utility and limitations of animal models, and emphasize the importance of shifting from behavioral analysis to identifying neurophysiological abnormalities, which are likely to be more conserved across species and thus may increase translatability. Looking forward, we envision that preclinical research will align with clinical research to build a common framework of comparable neurobiological abnormalities and to help form subgroups of patients on the basis of similar pathophysiology. Experimental neuroscience can then use animal models to discover mechanisms underlying distinct abnormalities and develop strategies for effective treatments.

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