Behavior problems and psychopharmacology

Mills, Daniel (2011) Behavior problems and psychopharmacology. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 6 (1). pp. 96-97. ISSN 1558-7878

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Official URL: http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/PIIS1558...

Abstract

Behavior problems consist of clusters of behaviors and emotional states of varying intensity associated with a range of cognitive processes, none of which may be unique for a given problem. Although there may be specific factors which an owner finds unacceptable, the processes that result in a problem often have their origins in normality and are spectral in their form. Consequently, there may be no single qualitative factor which defines a problem from an objective biological perspective. This poses challenges for the scientific classification of behavior problems, and reflects the issues faced in human psychiatry. Many attempts have been made to define animal behavior problems based on contextual factors, e.g., intermale aggression; putative function, e.g., possessive aggression; significant aetiological factors, e.g., learned aggression, or perhaps a combination of these. Unfortunately any system which does not have a solid biological basis is likely to have serious limitations and be of limited value when trying to relate diagnosis to potential pharmacological intervention. Recent developments in neuroscience have identified a range of emotional circuits and associated neuromodulatory systems that are likely to contribute to problem behavior in mammals and by recognising how these are expressed in a given individual it is possible to define an animal’s problem in multidimensional emotional space. Thus an animal is not fearful or frustrated at any given time, but has a degree of fear AND a degree of frustration at a given time. The emotional states and their intensity together with cognitive influences can be inferred from a careful evaluation of the environmental contingencies associated with the behavior, careful behavioral analysis and historical assessment. As a result a diagnosis, which should be considered to be a hypothetical construct that needs to be tested, can be formulated. This testing may be undertaken at a number of levels. In the clinical setting the relative importance of different emotional processes should be assessed as differential diagnoses by careful questioning and analysis, but at an experimental level, it is increasingly possible to provide scientific evidence to objectively support the definition of a given emotional response. Experimental evidence may come from many sources such as pharmacological probes which map onto particular neuromodulatory systems (possibly through epigenetic effects) and so help to differentiate the importance of one system over another, or the increasing range of cognitive-behavioral tests. There is a need for greater investment in these activities to help define the underlying biology of behavioral problems and in so doing it is to be hoped that our understanding of the relationship between behavior problems and psychopharmacology will become clearer.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Behavior problems consist of clusters of behaviors and emotional states of varying intensity associated with a range of cognitive processes, none of which may be unique for a given problem. Although there may be specific factors which an owner finds unacceptable, the processes that result in a problem often have their origins in normality and are spectral in their form. Consequently, there may be no single qualitative factor which defines a problem from an objective biological perspective. This poses challenges for the scientific classification of behavior problems, and reflects the issues faced in human psychiatry. Many attempts have been made to define animal behavior problems based on contextual factors, e.g., intermale aggression; putative function, e.g., possessive aggression; significant aetiological factors, e.g., learned aggression, or perhaps a combination of these. Unfortunately any system which does not have a solid biological basis is likely to have serious limitations and be of limited value when trying to relate diagnosis to potential pharmacological intervention. Recent developments in neuroscience have identified a range of emotional circuits and associated neuromodulatory systems that are likely to contribute to problem behavior in mammals and by recognising how these are expressed in a given individual it is possible to define an animal’s problem in multidimensional emotional space. Thus an animal is not fearful or frustrated at any given time, but has a degree of fear AND a degree of frustration at a given time. The emotional states and their intensity together with cognitive influences can be inferred from a careful evaluation of the environmental contingencies associated with the behavior, careful behavioral analysis and historical assessment. As a result a diagnosis, which should be considered to be a hypothetical construct that needs to be tested, can be formulated. This testing may be undertaken at a number of levels. In the clinical setting the relative importance of different emotional processes should be assessed as differential diagnoses by careful questioning and analysis, but at an experimental level, it is increasingly possible to provide scientific evidence to objectively support the definition of a given emotional response. Experimental evidence may come from many sources such as pharmacological probes which map onto particular neuromodulatory systems (possibly through epigenetic effects) and so help to differentiate the importance of one system over another, or the increasing range of cognitive-behavioral tests. There is a need for greater investment in these activities to help define the underlying biology of behavioral problems and in so doing it is to be hoped that our understanding of the relationship between behavior problems and psychopharmacology will become clearer.
Keywords:behavior problem, diagnosis, motivation, taxonomy
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:4452
Deposited By: Sarah Lunt
Deposited On:02 May 2011 20:07
Last Modified:13 Aug 2011 09:00

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