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Rodent Models for Human Cognition ?

Zanos Stavros stavrosz at med.auth.gr
Sat Apr 27 13:56:18 EST 1996

Me and 8 more undergraduates are preparing a short seminar 
on the neurophysiology of learning. Having undertaken the 
molecular mechanisms of
synaptic plasticity, which is believed to underlie 
learning, I found that the vast majority of what we know 
about learning at the synaptic level is based on rodent (or 
invertebrate) models, either in vitro or in vivo. Naturally 
the use of human models for studying such mechanisms faces 
objective difficulties. A question thus occured to me: 
could the bottom-up approach to such phenomena as memory 
and learning (not to mention other cognitive functions) be 
applied to humans? For example, due to the large 
differences in the circuitry between the rat and the human, 
similar molecular mechanisms could account for totally 
different computations. As a medical student, I would like 
to see this progress in molecular neurobiology being 
applied directly to human neuropharmacology or another 
intervention to cure mental illness.

I could really use some info (i.e. references, personal 
ideas) on this (perhaps philosophical) matter. Thank you in 

Zanos Stavros
Aristotle Univ School of Medicine
Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece

		"If I had more time, I would have written you 
a shorter letter"

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