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May 2015

The Future of Psychiatry as Clinical Neuroscience: Why Not Now?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York
JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(5):413-414. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3199

In 2012, Thomas Insel,1 director of the National Institute of Mental Health, wrote an essay entitled The Future of Psychiatry ( = Clinical Neuroscience), echoing a familiar trope in our field.2 The themes he described then are even more relevant today. Technologic advances have enhanced our ability to study the brain, and new findings have reshaped the fundamental way in which we understand psychiatric illness. For example, although depression was once characterized as simply a monoaminergic deficit, new research is expanding our understanding of depression across multiple levels of analysis—from circuits, to neurotransmitters, to synaptic plasticity, to second messenger systems, to epigenetic and genetic differences.3