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What animals can teach clinicians about the hippocampus.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Lavenex Pierre, Banta Lavenex Pamela, Favre Grégoire,
Project Postnatal development and plasticity of the primate hippocampal formation
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Frontiers of neurology and neuroscience
Volume (Issue) 34
Page(s) 36 - 50
Title of proceedings Frontiers of neurology and neuroscience
DOI 10.1159/000356418


Abnormalities in hippocampal structure and function have been reported in a number of human neuropathological and neurodevelopmental disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. Given the complexity of these disorders, animal studies are invaluable and remain to date irreplaceable, providing fundamental knowledge regarding the basic mechanisms underlying normal and pathological human brain structure and function. However, there is a prominent ill-conceived view in current research that scientists should be restricted to using animal models of human diseases that can lead to results applicable to humans within a few years. Although there is no doubt that translational studies of this kind are important and necessary, limiting animal studies to applicable questions is counterproductive and will ultimately lead to a lack of knowledge and an inability to address human health problems. Here, we discuss findings regarding the normal postnatal development of the monkey hippocampal formation, which provide an essential framework to consider the etiologies of different neuropathological disorders affecting human hippocampal structure and function. We focus on studies of gene expression in distinct hippocampal regions that shed light on some basic mechanisms that might contribute to the etiology of schizophrenia. We argue that researchers, as well as clinicians, should not consider the use of animals in research only as 'animal models' of human diseases, as they will continue to need and benefit from a better understanding of the normal structure and functions of the hippocampus in 'model animals'.