Classifying neural circuit dysfunctions using neuroeconomics

July 24, 2012

Philadelphia, PA, July 24, 2012 - The traditional approach to psychiatric diagnosis is based on grouping patients on the basis of symptom clusters. This approach to diagnosis has a number of problems, as symptoms are not necessarily specific to a single diagnosis. Symptoms may vary among patients with a particular diagnosis, and there are no clear diagnostic biomarkers or tests for psychiatry as there are for other areas of medicine.

With this in mind, Steve Chang, along with colleagues from Duke University, introduces a new classification scheme for psychiatric symptoms based on the state of a dysfunctional neural circuit. This is a thought-provoking proposal altering the way science thinks about psychiatric disorders, all of which have been found to have some form of neural circuit dysfunction.

The authors focus on two kinds of functional deficits. Variance-shifted functionality is a condition by which a damaged circuit continues to function, but not at its optimal capacity. State-shifted functionality, on the other hand, is when the function of the circuit is either completely absent or altered in such a way that its output is functionally different.

They discuss these deficits from the perspective of neuroeconomics, an interdisciplinary field that studies the process of decision-making, and related investigations in animals.

"This paper suggests a future in which a cluster of important symptoms for some psychopathology is isolated, classified according to the information-based scheme outlined by Chang et al. and then used to guide the production of a model organism exhibiting deficits in a contributing neural system," commented neuroeconomics expert P. Read Montague at Virginia Tech. "These possibilities are quite exciting not only because of the possible insights into basic mechanisms, but also because of the potentially fruitful interplay with clinical applications."

"Every day, millions of people struggle with mental illness. While great progress has been made in our understanding of mental illnesses, we lack an adequate framework for connecting mental illness with the underlying problems in the brain," saidstudy's first author Steve Chang, postdoctoral fellow at Duke University and member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. "Our understanding of electrical circuits and recent animal studies in the field of neuroeconomics provides novel insights into the ways neural circuits might fail, resulting in specific symptoms. Our hope is that these insights spur new research and ideas in the treatment of mental disorders."

"In an era where psychiatry hopes to draw tighter links between brain biology and diagnosis, it is important to find ways to begin the discussion about how this might be accomplished," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. This study is a step in that direction.
-end-
The article is "Mechanistic Classification of Neural Circuit Dysfunctions: Insights from Neuroeconomics Research in Animals" by Steve W.C. Chang, David L. Barack, and Michael L. Platt (doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.02.017). The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 72, Issue 2 (July 15, 2012), published by Elsevier.

Notes for editors

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Rhiannon Bugno at +1 214 648 0880 or Biol.Psych@utsouthwestern.edu. Journalists wishing to interview the authors of the journal article may contact Julie Rhodes at +1 919 613 5014 or julie.rhodes@duke.edu.

The authors' affiliations, and disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available in the article.

John H. Krystal, M.D., is Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and a research psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. His disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available here.

About Biological Psychiatry

Biological Psychiatry is the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry, whose purpose is to promote excellence in scientific research and education in fields that investigate the nature, causes, mechanisms and treatments of disorders of thought, emotion, or behavior. In accord with this mission, this peer-reviewed, rapid-publication, international journal publishes both basic and clinical contributions from all disciplines and research areas relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of major psychiatric disorders.

The journal publishes novel results of original research which represent an important new lead or significant impact on the field, particularly those addressing genetic and environmental risk factors, neural circuitry and neurochemistry, and important new therapeutic approaches. Reviews and commentaries that focus on topics of current research and interest are also encouraged.

Biological Psychiatry is one of the most selective and highly cited journals in the field of psychiatric neuroscience. It is ranked 4th out of 126 Psychiatry titles and 15th out of 237 Neurosciences titles in the Journal Citations Reports® published by Thomson Reuters. The 2010 Impact Factor score for Biological Psychiatry is 8.674.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier's online solutions include ScienceDirect, Scopus, Reaxys, MD Consult and Mosby's Nursing Suite, which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals, and the SciVal suite and MEDai's Pinpoint Review, which help research and health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.

A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world-leading publisher and information provider, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

Media contact

Rhiannon Bugno
Editorial Office, Biological Psychiatry
+1 214 648 0880
biol.psych@utsouthwestern.edu

Elsevier

Related Mental Illness Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.

Hospitals miss mental illness diagnosis in more than a quarter of patients
Severe mental illness diagnoses are missed by clinicians in more than one quarter of cases when people are hospitalised for other conditions, finds a new study led by UCL researchers, published in PLOS Medicine.

Young migrants at risk of mental illness
Experience of trauma, abuse and poverty puts the mental health of many young refugees at risk.

Chronic illness in childhood linked to higher rates of mental illness
Children with long-term health conditions may be more likely to experience mental illness in early adolescence than healthy children, according to new research from Queen Mary University of London.

Did 'Joker' movie perpetuate prejudices against those with mental illness?
Researchers in this survey study examined whether watching the 2019 movie 'Joker,' in which the namesake character is violent and has mental illness, was associated with a change in the level of prejudice toward people with mental illness compared with others who watched another movie.

Skills training opens 'DOORS' to digital mental health for patients with serious mental illness
Digital technologies, especially smartphone apps, have great promise for increasing access to care for patients with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia.

Research calls for new measures to treat mental illness and opioid use
Opioid use among psychiatric hospital patients needs to be addressed through an integrated approach to managing mental illness, pain and substance use, a study by researchers at the University of Waterloo has found.

Researchers challenge myth of the relationship between mental illness and incarceration
Researchers examined the relationship between psychiatric diagnoses and future incarceration by merging data from psychiatric interviews that took place in the 1980s with 30 years of follow-up data.

New research raises important questions on how mental illness is currently diagnosed
This research raises questions as to whether current diagnoses accurately reflect the underlying neurobiology of mental illness.

Young teens of color more likely to avoid peers with mental illness
Students identifying as black or Latino are more likely to say they would socially distance themselves from peers with a mental illness, a key indicator of mental illness stigma, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

Read More: Mental Illness News and Mental Illness Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.