Clinical Relevance of Behavior Testing in Animal Models of Traumatic Brain Injury

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of morbidity worldwide, with patients often suffering from consequences such as cognitive deficits, social abnormalities, anxiety, depression, pain, and motor dysfunction. Given that these impairments often have a significant impact on the patient's quality of life, a key aim of therapeutic intervention in TBI is to mitigate these effects. Translational strategies to develop such interventions have heavily featured animal models of TBI. To assess the efficacy of interventions in these models, a range of behavioral outcomes are utilized. However, in light of the past translational failures that have plagued the TBI field, the clinical relevance of these preclinical behavioral tests is now being scrutinized. This article will summarize the behavioral consequences of TBI in humans; describe common methods available for testing cognition, social function, motor ability, pain, as well as depression- and anxiety-like behaviors in animal models of TBI; provide an overview of the results from TBI animal model studies that have utilized these methods; and discuss these pre-clinical behavior methods and findings in terms of their relevance to the clinical TBI setting. We conclude that there is translational value in these methods and their related findings, but also suggest strategies and future research to improve the clinical relevance of behavior testing in animal models of TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2381-2400
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2020


  • anxiety
  • cognition
  • depression
  • emotion
  • large animal
  • motor, pain
  • rodent
  • social

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