Practical limitations and ethical concerns restrict opportunities for randomized, controlled trials of potentially new drug treatments for human psychiatric disorders. Prospects for discovering the neural mechanisms of action of established therapeutic drugs are also less prevalent in psychiatry than other fields of medicine, because biopsies of diseased brain tissue in humans are seldom performed. Animal models are therefore essential for screening new drugs and for understanding how drug therapies in humans restore the neural basis of mental health. This chapter addresses the validity, utility, and limitations of animal models in psychopharmacological research.
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