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by Steven E. Hyman, M.D.
When it comes to funding drug research to treat
depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders, the global
pharmaceutical industry prefers to invest its research dollars in cancer,
metabolism, autoimmunity, and other disease areas. This comes despite the fact
that one in five Americans currently take at least one psychiatric drug and
that mental disorders are recognized worldwide. The author traces the evolution
of psychiatric drug development, the reasons for its retreat, and what needs to
change to meet the growing demand. From Cerebrum,
our online magazine of ideas.
Amidst an explosion of oxytocin research,
neuroscientists express cautious enthusiasm about the hormone's potential
applications, but also warn of misperceptions brought on by oversimplified
Traditionally viewed as a process that needs to be turned off in spinal
cord injury, programmed cell death may, in fact, play a critical role in axon
regeneration. This Q&A with Aravinthan Samuel, Ph.D., is the latest in a series
of interviews with Dana grantees.
The movie Men in Black ends with a
sequence where Tommy Lee Jones' character is reported in the popular press to
have awakened miraculously after 20 years in a coma. Although clinicians
traditionally have scoffed at such reports, such cases do make the news now and
again, and raise the question of whether and how that can happen. Recent
advances provide some answers, and suggest some treatments that might promote
such an outcome. One of our series of Reports
The path to disease in the brain may not be
the same for all, or even many, of the people diagnosed with such disorders as
schizophrenia or autism. And now researchers have found that the same pathways
may underlie very different disorders.
Researchers find people who can not
anticipate fear because of a rare disease can still experience it in real-time.
This suggests a more-complex role for the amygdala and other fear-sensing
Researchers are starting to explore links
between genetic variation and a how a person responds to certain psychiatric
therapies. Perhaps someday your doctor will say, "There's an X
probablility you'll respond to this therapy."
High-pressure doses of rich oxygen can improve
brain function in injured animals, but early research is mixed in humans. Is it
the pressure? The extra oxygen? Or simply a placebo effect?
The "BRAIN" Initiative, described
by President Obama last week, aims to accelerate the development and
application of technologies to help researchers produce a dynamic picture of the
brain that, for the first time, could should how individual cells and complex
neural circuits interact in both time and space.