Simpler Nervous Systems Invertebrates and Lower Vertebrate Preparations

We include a reference to simpler nervous systems for completeness; more comprehensive reviews of the use of nonmammalian model systems can be found elsewhere (Kandel 1978). However, depending on the application, use of these preparations may yield varying degrees of relevance. With respect to the use of phylogenetically lower species as models for psychopharmacological studies in humans, much of the data related to anatomy, cellular physiology, and behavior would be of limited value. The nervous system of these organisms is substantially different from those of vertebrates and humans, even at the single neuronal level. As a result, information derived from these systems is likely to be substantially less applicable to behavioral control in the mammalian class. Nonetheless, several unique advantages are associated with the study of the nervous systems of these organisms: the nervous system is more accessible, the small number of neurons allows for simple and replicable identification of specific neurons, the large neuronal size enables more stable impalement and more complex procedures, and so on. Furthermore, information about the study of some second-messenger systems or receptor transduction mechanisms appears to be more directly transferable to the vertebrate. Thus, it appears that nature is more likely to conserve the most basic functional units of neurotransmitter actions throughout phylogeny, with decreasing levels of homology as the functional units are assembled into more complex systems of neurons and networks.

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