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Lack of good animal models for affective disorders, including major depression and bipolar disorder, is noted as a major bottleneck in attempts to study these disorders and develop better treatments. We suggest that an important approach that can help in the development and use of better models is attention to variability between model animals.
Differences between mice strains were studied for some decades now, and sex differences get more attention than in the past. It is suggested that one factor that is mostly neglected, individual variability within groups, should get much more attention. The importance of individual differences in behavioral biology and ecology was repeatedly mentioned but its application to models of affective illness or to the study of drug response was not heavily studied. The standard approach is to overcome variability by standardization and by increasing the number of animals per group.
Possibly, the individuality of specific animals and their unique responses to a variety of stimuli and drugs, can be helpful in deciphering the underlying biology of affective behaviors as well as offer better prediction of drug responses in patients.
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