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Neuroscience and Psychiatry
October 2014

Homeostasis vs Allostasis: Implications for Brain Function and Mental Disorders

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(10):1192-1193. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.1043

Most drugs that alter mental function, whether for recreational purposes or to treat mental disorders, affect synaptic transmission. Some drugs reshape the action potential, altering release of neurotransmitter; others antagonize or enhance the effect of a neurotransmitter on its synaptic receptor protein. Still other drugs inhibit reuptake of the neurotransmitter from the extracellular space, thus prolonging its action at the synapse. This leads naturally to the idea that disorders of thought, attention, and mood are fundamentally disorders of the synapse. Moreover, it presents a rationale for treating mental disorders by pharmacotherapy of the synapse.