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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 1996 Jun;3(3-4):345-52.

Animal models in cognitive behavioural pharmacology: an overview.

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Medical Countermeasures, Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK.


Most studies in cognitive behavioural pharmacology have used rodents as subjects and simple learning tasks. This approach is regarded as acceptable because the cognitive abilities of rats may not differ from those of non-human primates and the modelling in animals of those advanced cognitive abilities possessed by humans may be of limited utility. A strength of many existing models lies in their construct validity. However, the face, concurrent and predictive validities of many animal models are low. In part, this is due to the need to take account of species specific characteristics in experimental design. Thus, inter-species differences in learning may be explained not by differences in cognitive ability but by differences in species specific morphological, physiological and behavioural characteristics. Features of the 'ideal' animal model of human cognitive function are listed and potential strategies for future research in cognitive behavioural pharmacology assessed.

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