Animal models of neuropsychiatric disorders

Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2011;7:39-61. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032210-104454.


We survey the utility of animal models of mental illness, based on the identification of possible neurocognitive or neurobehavioral endophenotypes. Three broad clusters of neuropsychiatric disorder are discussed: (a) impulsive-compulsive syndromes, comprising drug addiction, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, gambling, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and compulsive eating; (b) disorders at the cognitive-emotional interface, comprising anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia; and (c) disorders purely of cognition, which contribute to the third cluster, cognitive disorders. The emphasis is thus on modeling symptoms rather than disorders per se. We also distinguish between two main aspects of any validated model: the precise neurobehavioral or neurocognitive processes implicated from detailed study of the clinical phenotype, and the perturbations, whether typically genetic, environmental, pharmacological, or neurodevelopmental, that are designed to simulate relevant neural, neurochemical, or molecular aspects of particular neuropsychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affective Symptoms
  • Animals
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
  • Behavior
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders
  • Depressive Disorder
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders
  • Gambling
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance-Related Disorders