The use of pigs in neuroscience: modeling brain disorders

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2007;31(5):728-51. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.02.003. Epub 2007 Mar 4.


The use of pigs in neuroscience research has increased in the past decade, which has seen broader recognition of the potential of pigs as an animal for experimental modeling of human brain disorders. The volume of available background data concerning pig brain anatomy and neurochemistry has increased considerably in recent years. The pig brain, which is gyrencephalic, resembles the human brain more in anatomy, growth and development than do the brains of commonly used small laboratory animals. The size of the pig brain permits the identification of cortical and subcortical structures by imaging techniques. Furthermore, the pig is an increasingly popular laboratory animal for transgenic manipulations of neural genes. The present paper focuses on evaluating the potential for modeling symptoms, phenomena or constructs of human brain diseases in pigs, the neuropsychiatric disorders in particular. Important practical and ethical aspects of the use of pigs as an experimental animal as pertaining to relevant in vivo experimental brain techniques are reviewed. Finally, current knowledge of aspects of behavioral processes including learning and memory are reviewed so as to complete the summary of the status of pigs as a species suitable for experimental models of diverse human brain disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Neurosciences*
  • Swine*