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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Adult cognitive disorders exact a staggering burden on worldwide health care, with the need for efficacious and accessible treatments growing every day. The ability to probe questions relevant to normal or aberrant cognition in humans makes animal models indispensable tools in translational research. The use of animal models enables detailed investigation of complex interactions between genes, environment, and cognition that would be difficult or impossible in human subjects or populations. However, special consideration must be given to create specific, translatable models of human cognitive disorders. First, a model must prove statistically reliable, reproducible, and valid. Successful translational research requires thoughtful consideration and careful deployment of reliable, well-chosen animal models that are appropriately matched to their experimental purpose. In addition, to ensure specificity of a model to one disorder, it is prudent to focus on clusters of clinical features and disease-specific phenotypes in addition to environmental and genetic risk factors. Many neurological disorders share symptomatic elements in common, which drives the necessity for relevant cognitive domains to the disease in question to be carefully considered and replicated. Thoughtfully created animal models facilitate translational research aimed at understanding disease mechanisms and developing effective diagnostics, therapeutics, and preventive strategies to achieve better health care outcomes for people affected by cognitive disorders.

Keywords: translational research, adult cognitive disorders, cognition, animal models, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, fetal alcohol syndrome, fragile X syndrome

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