To Diagnose Mental Illness, Read the Brain (Scientific American):
Although scientists have learned a lot about the brain in the last few decades, approaches to treating mental illnesses have not kept up. As neuroscientists learn more about brain circuits, Stanford psychiatrist Amit Etkin foresees a time when diagnoses will be based on brain scans rather than symptoms…(Etkin says that) We understand behavior is essentially underpinned by brain circuits. That is, there are circuits in the brain that determine certain types of behaviors and certain types of thoughts and feelings. That’s probably the most useful way of organizing brain function. If you can start characterizing circuit disruptions for compensatory symptoms at an individual subject level and then link that to how you can provide interventions, then you can get away completely from diagnoses and can intervene with brain function in a directed way.
Related article: Mental Illness – One Treatment to Cure Them All, One Network to Bind Them? (BrainBlogger):
Imagine: A cure all for ALL mental illnesses… sounds illogical, perhaps impossible, something straight out of fantasy, no? Well, at the SharpBrains Virtual Summit, Monitoring & Enhancing Brain Health in the Pervasive Neuroscience Era, where presenting cutting-edge innovative research was the norm, I was lucky to be witness to a truly tantalizing talk by psychologist Dr. Madeleine Goodkind that will likely change your perspective. As Dr. Goodkind explains, even within one mental illness, there are vastly diverse combinations of symptoms and responses to treatment, as well as comorbity (i.e. shared symptoms) with many other disorders…So instead of focusing on symptoms, Dr. Goodkind and coworkers looked to the source of the river and identified “…three regions of the brain that commonly have decreased volumes across psychiatric illnesses, the left and right bilateral anterior insula, and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex…there are underlying brain deficits that may be present that we can address first to make treatment more effective.”
To Learn more:
- Q: What do people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety have in common? A: A brain with similar gray-matter loss
- Slidedeck by Dr. Goodkind and others: