Animal Models of Speech and Vocal Communication Deficits Associated with Psychiatric Disorders

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Abstract

Disruptions in speech, language, and vocal communication are hallmarks of several neuropsychiatric disorders, most notably autism spectrum disorders. Historically, the use of animal models to dissect molecular pathways and connect them to behavioral endophenotypes in cognitive disorders has proven to be an effective approach for developing and testing disease-relevant therapeutics. The unique aspects of human language compared with vocal behaviors in other animals make such an approach potentially more challenging. However, the study of vocal learning in species with analogous brain circuits to humans may provide entry points for understanding this human-specific phenotype and diseases. We review animal models of vocal learning and vocal communication and specifically link phenotypes of psychiatric disorders to relevant model systems. Evolutionary constraints in the organization of neural circuits and synaptic plasticity result in similarities in the brain mechanisms for vocal learning and vocal communication. Comparative approaches and careful consideration of the behavioral limitations among different animal models can provide critical avenues for dissecting the molecular pathways underlying cognitive disorders that disrupt speech, language, and vocal communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiological Psychiatry
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2015

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Keywords

  • Animal models
  • Autism
  • Language
  • Schizophrenia
  • Speech
  • Vocal communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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