Treating the Developing versus Developed Brain: Translating Preclinical Mouse and Human Studies
Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
Behaviors and underlying brain circuits show characteristic changes across the lifespan that produce sensitive windows of vulnerability and resilience to psychopathology. Understanding the developmental course of these changes may inform which treatments are best at what ages. Focusing on behavioral domains and neurobiological substrates conserved from mouse to human supports reciprocal hypothesis generation and testing that leverages the strengths of each system in understanding their development. Introducing human genetic variants into mice can further define effects of individual variation on normative development, how they contribute to risk and resilience for mental illness, and inform personalized treatment opportunities. This article emphasizes the period of adolescence, when there is a peak in the emergence of mental illness, anxiety disorders in particular. We present cross-species studies relating fear learning to anxiety across development and discuss how clinical treatments can be optimized for individuals and targeted to the biological states of the developing brain.