RICERCHE SUL CERVELLO INAFFIDABILI: MODELLO ANIMALE VS NEUROIMAGING

Esperimenti di tipo cognitivo su scimmie identificavano la localizzazione e la funzione di una regione specializzata che però non si ritrovava nell’uomo. Susan Courtney ed i suoi colleghi usarono la fMRI per indagare sulla localizzazione dell’attività di memorizzazione spaziale nell’uomo. Un’area specializzata per questa funzione venne identificata, ma in una zona situata più superiormente e posteriormente che nelle scimmie:

“In the field of cognitive studies, human vol­unteer research has enormous potential to replace animal experiments. This is illus­trated by research into memory. In monkeys, a prefrontal cortical region centring on the principal sulcus is considered to be impor­tant in working memory for spatial locations. Recording and stimulation experiments with microelectrodes identified the location and function of the specialised area in monkeys, but there was dispute about the site and even the existence of such a region in humans. Susan Courtney and her colleagues
used fMRI to investigate the location of the spatial working memory area in humans (12). An area was identified that is spe­cialised for this task, but in a more superior and posterior location than in monkeys, which may explain why it was not discovered in earlier human studies”

Studi su Sclerosi Multipla in modelli animali non hanno rilevato la reale complessità della malattia, individuata poi attraverso studi di brain imaging:

“However, animal models seldom express the complexity of
human disorders. A case in point is multiple sclerosis, where animal experiments sug­gested a relatively simple picture of demyeli­nation causing disability. Imaging studies of patients with multiple sclerosis have now revealed a greater complexity: remyelination may occur and axonal death may play an important role (Ll).”

FULL TEXT: [http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/6440/1/6440.pdf]

[Langley, G and Harding, G and Hawkins, P and Jones, A and Newman, C and Swithenby, S and Thompson, D and Tofts, P and Walsh, V (2000) Volunteer studies replacing animal experiments in brain research – Report and recommendations of a Volunteers in Research and Testing workshop. ATLA-ALTERN LAB ANIM , 28 (2) 315 – 331.]

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