Modeling neuropsychiatric disorders in animals poses a significant challenge due to the subjective nature of diverse often overlapping symptoms, lack of objective biomarkers and diagnostics, and the rudimentary understanding of the pathophysiology. Successful translational research requires animal models that can inform about disease mechanisms and therapeutic targets. Here, we review behavioral and neurobiological findings from selected animal models, based on presumed etiology and risk factors, for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. We focus on the use of appropriate statistical tools and newly developed Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) to link biomarkers from animal models with the human disease. We argue that this approach will lead to development of only the most robust animal models for specific psychiatric disorders and may ultimately lead to better understanding of the pathophysiology and identification of novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets.
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