A critical review of conventional models of depression and alternative approaches to studying emotional behaviour in non-human species

25th May 2023

By Dr Emma Robinson, University of Bristol, UK https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/emma-s-j-robinson

The animal models most commonly used to study depression were originally developed as pharmacological screening tools and theirrelevance for mechanistic studies and methods to study depression-related phenotypes are now thought to be limited. Innovating new methods is challenging because the majority of methods used in human research rely on subjective self-report measures which cannot be replicated in non-human animals. This represents a major issue for preclinical research however, objective methods based on neuropsychological tasks exist and have been well characterised in depressed populations and human experimental medicine. In this talk, I will briefly review conventional animal models of depression and their limitations and then discuss how we have developed alternative, translational methods based on the concept of affective biases, wherethe emotional state of the subject biases cognition. I will also discuss how these methods could be used to provide a ground truth against which we can evaluate novel methods including studies focused on home cage behaviours.

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