Training of research personnel should include procedure-specific training in neuroscience-research techniques, which the PI or senior research staff are usually best suited to teach, and more general training in such subjects as regulation, aseptic technique, anesthesiology, euthanasia techniques, and animal handling, which members of the veterinary or animal-care staff are generally most qualified to teach. The extent of training can depend on the duties and responsibilities of the staff involved. If the procedures to be used have the potential to cause pain and/or distress, mechanisms must be in place to ensure that the research staff can perform them competently. The selection of a trainer should be flexible and adaptive because it will depend on who is best qualified and prepared to provide training. A consortium of individuals from various disciplines may be necessary for complex projects (Kreger, 1995).
Training should be a continuing process. Open communication and cooperation between the veterinary staff and the investigative staff regarding innovations in technique are essential to ensure the most up-to-date and refined use of animals.
Evaluation of outcomes and results is critical in assessing technical experience and the need for training. The IACUC must be prepared to re-review training and experience whenever problems occur in projects.
Assessing the nature and context of the clinical problems that an animal may experience during neuroscience experiments can be challenging for both researchers and veterinarians. For example, some strains of genetically modified mice spontaneously develop severe and debilitating disease unrelated to experimental manipulation. In some models, animals may develop substantial or exacerbated neurologic abnormalities because of drug treatment or experimental lesions. The assessment of postprocedure pain, distress, and general health is a matter of subjective clinical judgment that depends on evaluating a variety of measures, including behavioral factors, and recognizing that the interpretation of these measures differs greatly among species; for example, some species mask pain or distress from the observer. However, how a trained animal performs a behavioral task can be a sensitive index of its general condition. Changes in baseline experimental measures can also be informative. In many cases, a change in a specific behavioral measure, rather than changes in a general repertoire of behaviors, is particularly informative. Accordingly, thorough record keeping is essential in any behavioral monitoring program, and the frequency and method of record keeping should be described in detail in the animal-use protocol.
Review of proposed experiments that involve the care and use of animals with induced neurologic deficits poses special concerns for IACUCs. Depending on the nature and extent of the deficits, animals with induced neurologic disease may be limited in their ability to ambulate, obtain food and water, groom, urinate, or defecate, or they may experience pain, behavioral depression, or fear. The