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Brains, Genes, and Primates

By Belmonte et al.
May 2015

One of the great strengths of the mouse model is the wide array of genetic tools that have been developed. Striking examples include methods for directed modification of the genome, and for regulated expression or inactivation of genes. Within neuroscience, it is now routine to express reporter genes, neuronal activity indicators, and opsins in specific neuronal types in the mouse. However, there are considerable anatomical, physiological, cognitive, and behavioral differences between the mouse and the human that, in some areas of inquiry, limit the degree to which insights derived from the mouse can be applied to understanding human neurobiology. Several recent advances have now brought into reach the goal of applying these tools to understanding the primate brain. Here we describe these advances, consider their potential to advance our understanding of the human brain and brain disorders, discuss bioethical considerations, and describe what will be needed to move forward.

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