Animal models of are frequently used to elucidate disease mechanisms and identify potential therapeutic targets. A large number of preclinical models of psychiatric disorders have been developed in rodents. Additionally, spontaneous clinical models of psychiatric disorders, such as separation anxiety and compulsive disorder, have been documented in dogs. With regard to neurological disorders, conditions such as stroke, can be induced in rodent models and are also observed clinically in companion animals. Information regarding genetic predisposition, sex-specificity, and age-related factors can also be assessed using these types of animal models.
In the section a number of studies utilize preclinical animal models to examine the neural basis of anxiety and depression, particularly as these disorders relate to stress. Studies in the area of substance abuse disorders, including abuse of opiates and cannabinoids, are also ongoing. Other preclinical work in the section focuses on sex differences in stroke outcomes, particularly with regard to symptoms related to post-stroke depression. Finally, spontaneous clinical models of a number of psychiatric disorders in dogs have been studied extensively by Dr. Nick Dodman and his collaborators, leading to significant advances in our understanding of the genetic underpinnings of psychiatric vulnerability.