Methods matter: A primer on permanent and reversible interference techniques in animals for investigators of human neuropsychology.

10 Apr 2018

The study of patients with brain lesions has contributed greatly to our understanding of the biological bases of human cognition, but this approach also has several unavoidable limitations. Research that uses animal models complements and extends human neuropsychology by addressing many of these limitations. In this review, we provide an overview of permanent and reversible animal lesion techniques for researchers of human neuropsychology, with the aim of highlighting how these methods provide a valuable adjunct to behavioural, neuroimaging, physiological, and clinical investigations in humans. Research in animals has provided important lessons about how the limitations of one or more techniques, or differences in their mechanism of action, has impacted upon the understanding of brain organisation and function. These cautionary tales highlight the importance of striving for a thorough understanding of how any intereference technique works (whether in animal or human), and for how to best use animal research to clarify the precise mechanisms underlying temporary lesion methods in humans.