Major Neuroscientific Discoveries Which Advanced Therapeutic Psychiatry

Presenting Author(s): Dr. Trevor W. Robbins, CBE FRS FMedSci PhD

Date and time: 11 Apr 2021 from 12:00 to 13:00

Location: Virtual  Floor Map

Learning Objectives:

  1. Clarifying the relevance of neuroscience to psychiatry;
  2. Utility of animal experimentation for psychiatry; and
  3. Demonstration of promise of new neuroscience methods.


How has experimental neuroscience impacted psychiatry? One could make a case that many of the discoveries so far in psychiatry, particularly in terms of pharmacological treatments, have been serendipitous rather than based on an experimental program; some neuroscience discoveries may have even retarded progress! However, it is possible to discern some experimental motifs in neuroscience that have had useful impact in psychiatry. In this talk I will identify four strands that have influenced our understanding of schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and impulsive-compulsive disorders, including addiction. In brief, I consider evidence of brainbased pathology in schizophrenia, arising from neuroimaging and studies in non-human primates, relevant to cognitive dysfunction. I will also review studies of effects of stress, especially early in life leading to affective disorders. The role of learning has also proven influential, especially in studies of the neural mediation of Pavlovian conditioning. which also can be argued to represent the intellectual basis of cognitive behavior therapy. Finally, I will discuss impulsive-compulsive disorders, focusing on the treatment of ADHD and OCD in the context of discoveries of chemical modulation of top-down fronto-striatal systems. In conclusion I will scan the horizon for future prospects of treatments based on the current vogue of analysis of functional neural circuitry, and the development of modern chemogenetic and neuroimaging methodology.

Literature References:

Not applicable

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