Non-Human Primate Models in Neuroscience Research
Neuroscience is progressively increasing its comprehension of the normal functioning of the central and peripheral nervous system. Such understanding is essential to challenge important neurodegenerative disorders and clinical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, etc. The aim of neuroscience research is to improve understanding of normal and pathological functions and to develop therapeutic strategies and tools. Fundamental neuroscience utilizes a variety of techniques which include: electrophysiology, imaging, and computational modelling and entails interactions with clinical studies. Non-human primates are the closest species to humans in terms of biological, physiological, immunological and neurological characteristics; their closeness has been, and is still, an important reason for using them in biomedical studies. These animals have a vertebrate brain that is most like that of humans in terms of neural circuitry and this, together with similarities with human physiological and behavioural characteristics, makes them more valuable and accurate models of neurological and psychiatric diseases than other animals. This article provides an overview of the contribution of non-human primate models in fundamental neuroscience research and in generating clinically relevant findings and therapeutic developments.