Despite massive research efforts, the exact pathogenesis and pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, remain largely unknown. Animal models can serve as essential tools for investigating the etiology and treatment of such disorders. Since the introduction of gene targeting techniques, the functions of more than 10% of all known mouse genes have been investigated by creating mutant mice. Some of these mutant mouse strains were found to exhibit behavioral abnormalities reminiscent of human psychiatric disorders. In this review, we discuss the general requirements for animal models of human psychiatric disorders. We also outline our unique approach of extrapolating findings in mice to humans, and present studies on forebrain-specific calcineurin knockout mice as an example. We also discuss the impact of a large-scale mouse phenotyping on studies of psychiatric disorders and the potential utility of an "animal-model-array" of psychiatric disorders for the development of suitable therapeutic agents.
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