Comparable Measures of Cognitive Function in Human Infants and Laboratory Animals to Identify Environmental Health Risks to Children
The importance of including neurodevelopmental end points in environmental studies is clear. A validated measure of cognitive function in human infants that also has a homologous or parallel test in laboratory animal studies will provide a valuable approach for large-scale studies. Such a comparable test will allow researchers to observe the effect of environmental neurotoxicants in animals and relate those findings to humans. In this article, we present the results of a review of post-1990, peer-reviewed literature and current research examining measures of cognitive function that can be applied to both human infants (0-12 months old) and laboratory animals. We begin with a discussion of the definition of cognitive function and important considerations in cross-species research. We then describe identified comparable measures, providing a description of the test in human infants and animal subjects. Available information on test reliability, validity, and population norms, as well as test limitations and constraints, is also presented. Key words: attention, behavioral testing methodology, cognitive function, developmental neurotoxicology, environmental health, infant, intelligence, learning, memory, neurobehavior.