This chapter provides an overview of psychotropic screening procedures. The principal aim of such methods is the discovery of new drugs for the therapy of psychiatric illness. Antidepressant screening is characterized by the availability of both behavioral models and pharmacological interaction models. In behavioral tests, the animals are generally placed in aversive situations that induce recognizable behavioral changes. The effects of drugs on the induced behavioral change are evaluated. In drug interaction studies, the test drug is evaluated for its antagonism, or sometimes potentiation of the behavioral and other physiological effects of a pharmacological reagent. For anxiolytic screening the approach is primarily behavioral, whereas for neuroleptics screening is almost exclusively in terms of pharmacological interactions. With neuroleptics, behavioral approaches are either nonspecific for neuroleptics or reflect mainly neuroleptic side-effects. All three domains have recognized reference compounds with which the tests have been standardized. In contrast, screening strategies for cognition enhancers cannot be validated using recognized reference compounds, but on the other hand, demonstrate a more explicit attempt by the behavioral pharmacologists to model the clinical condition(s).
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