Summary of a National Institute of Mental Health workshop: Developing animal models of anxiety disorders

A. Shekhar, U. D. McCann, M. J. Meaney, D. C. Blanchard, M. Davis, K. A. Frey, I. Liberzon, K. L. Overall, M. K. Shear, L. H. Tecott, L. Winsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Rationale: There exists a wide range of animal models and measures designed to assess anxiety or fearfulness. However, the relationship between these models and clinical anxiety symptoms and syndromes is unclear. The National Institute of Mental Health convened a workshop to discuss the relationship between existing behavioral models of anxiety and the clinical profile of anxiety disorders. A second goal of this workshop was to outline various approaches towards modeling components of anxiety disorders. Objectives: To briefly describe epidemiological and behavioral manifestations of clinical anxiety syndromes and how they relate to commonly employed animal models of anxiety. To describe approaches and considerations for developing, improving, and adapting anxiety models to better understand the neurobiology of anxiety. Methods: Clinicians, psychiatrists and clinical and basic neuroscientists presented data exemplifying different approaches towards understanding anxiety and the role of animal models. Panel members outlined what they considered to be critical issues in developing and employing animal models of anxiety. Results: This review summarizes the discussions and conclusions of the workshop including recommendations for improving upon existing models and strategies for developing novel models. Conclusions: The probability of developing comprehensive animal models that accurately reflect the relative influences of factors contributing to anxiety disorder syndromes is quite low. However, ample opportunity remains to better define and extend existing models and behavioral measures related to specific processes that may be disrupted in anxiety disorders and to develop new models that consider the impact of combined factors in determining anxious behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-339
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Benzodiazepine
  • Ethological models
  • Maternal grooming
  • Mutant mice
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • PTSD
  • Panic
  • Startle
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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