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Cognitive Task Development

A major difficulty in moving research from the bench to the clinic is the translational gap between animal studies and clinical trials. For example, although many medications for Alzheimer’s Disease have been successful in animal tests, they have failed to lead to functional improvement in human clinical trials (Gravitz, 2011, Cummings, 2010, Bezprozvanny, 2010). One of the factors that may have contributed to these failures is differences between how efficacy of compounds is assessed in animals and humans, which in diseases affecting cognition usually means cognitive and behavioural tests.

A major thrust of the TCNLab is to improve translation to the clinic, mainly through scientific and technological innovation. Most people in the lab are working in one way or another on the development of a touchscreen-based cognitive assessment system for rodents. The system enables us to utilize very similar, and in many cases identical, cognitive assays in mice and humans. This method has the tremendous advantage of eliminating numerous confounds, in addition to maximizing the likelihood that the same underlying cognitive processes are being probed in both mice and humans. Thus, the effects of manipulations at multiple levels on cognition can be evaluated in mouse and rat models of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disease and then directly compared to the cognitive profiles of human patients.

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