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Can the results of animal studies be applied to humans?

Humans and non-human primates have very similar basic behavioral patterns that are reflected in a comparable brain structure. There are numerous well-documented cases in which the results of studies using an animal model can be applied to humans.All primates are very closely related from the standpoint of evolutionary biology. The similarities can be seen both in behavioral studies and in the basic structure of the brain. Humans and apes rely above all on their sense of vision. As a result, the visual cortex is much more highly developed than in animals such as rodents that explore the world primarily through their sense of smell.  

There are many cases in which the results of carefully and responsibly conducted experiments using animals have contributed to medical progress and thus benefited humans. The best-known example is the Rhesus blood group system, which owes its name to the fact that it was first discovered in the rhesus monkey. Since then, millions of newborns have been spared severe injury or even death due to Rhesus factor incompatibility.  

In the neurosciences, the discovery of mirror neurons shows how suddenly basic research can become clinically relevant. Mirror neurons were first found in the brain of rhesus monkeys, but we now know that they are present in the human brain and that they are responsible for our ability to put ourselves in another person’s place. On the basis of these findings from basic research, medicine is now studying what causes severe disorders such as autism that affect social interactions.