Role of human neurobehavioural tests in regulatory activity on chemicals

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Psychological performance tests have been used since the mid-1960s in occupational and environmental health toxicology. The interpretation of significantly different test scores in neurobehavioural studies is not straightforward in the regulation of chemicals. This paper sets out some issues which emerged from discussions at an international workshop, organised by the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to discuss differences in interpretation of human neurobehavioural test data in regulatory risk assessments. The difficulties encountered by regulators confronted with neurobehavioural studies seem to be twofold; some studies lack scientific rigor; other studies, although scientifically sound, are problematic because it is not clear what interpretation to place on the results. Issues relating to each of these points are discussed. Next, scenarios within which to consider the outcomes of neurobehavioural studies are presented. Finally, conclusions and recommendations for further work are put forward.

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