APA's Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE) and the Board of Scientific Affairs has released a new video, "The Importance of Laboratory Animal Research in Psychology: Psychopharmacology." The video is the second in a series intended to educate high school students about the contributions of laboratory animal research to psychology.
Much progress in the field of psychopharmacology depends on nonhuman animal research, notes Sangeeta Panicker, PhD, APA's director of research ethics and staff liaison to CARE. However, she says, many high school students do not make the connection between these lab experiments and their real-world applications.
The newly released video focuses on drug abuse research. When given the opportunity to self-administer drugs by pressing a lever operating an intravenous injection apparatus, rats choose to repeatedly take the same substances that humans abuse, such as cocaine, the video illustrates.
The self-administration procedure is also used to study other aspects of drug abuse. For example, prior to the release of new drugs for clinical use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that data relevant to the drug's "abuse liability" be obtained. One type of data is obtained from self-administration studies in lab animals. If the animal self-administers the drug at a higher rate than a placebo, then it is one indication that people who are vulnerable to drug abuse may do so as well, says Nancy A. Ator, PhD, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who is featured in the video.
The 14.5-minute video is accompanied by a 20-page study guide that provides discussion questions and details about the research summarized in the video.
"Students need to be educated about the contributions of lab animals in behavioral research, and psychopharmacology is one area where nonhuman animal research is clearly necessary and useful," notes Panicker. Copies of the video will be sent to all members of APA's Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools.