Animal models and the science of movement disorders


An integrated approach of rigorous clinical, in vitro, and whole animal research is the optimal means to advance the understanding of movement disorders and closely related neurological diseases. In the context of movement disorders research, there are two ultimate goals such as superior diagnosis and treatment of patients and advanced understanding of biological systems. Hence, critical insights into the normal control of movement have come from the study of movement disorders. Furthermore, the study of motor systems and movement disorders has contributed enormously to the fields of neurodevelopment, neurodegeneration, robotics, artificial neural networks, and computational neuroscience. Patients with movement disorders and their phenotypically normal family members serve as the fundamental source of materials for investigation. Acquisition of whole blood for subsequent DNA extraction from lymphocytes has served as the beginning to many major discoveries in the neurosciences. Integration of electrophysiological, behavioral, and functional imaging data from patients with movement disorders can be used to identify responsible neural networks, monitor disease progression, establish phenotypes, and quantify the effects of various treatments. Towards these ends, several nonprofit research foundations devoted to the study of movement disorders have established brain repositories, and several well-known brain banks maintain tissues from patients with well-characterized movement disorders. Study of human postmortem tissues can be used to formulate hypotheses for testing in animals. At a practical level, many of the techniques and approaches used in clinics and hospitals can be applied to research with animal models. Moreover, insights from human studies can serve as a source of inspiration for more focused mechanistic studies in animals. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Movement Disorders