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April 2017

Project for a Scientific Psychiatry: Neuroscience Literacy

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • 2Editor, JAMA Psychiatry
JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(4):315. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.3392

Good psychiatric practice requires the diagnosis and management of abnormal mental states and abnormal behavior. But it is not essential to know the neural mechanisms of psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric formulations may include a neuroscientific perspective, but often do not. This is in stark contrast to the rest of medicine, where assessments of the human body (physical and neurological examination) are essential and treatment is monitored with biological data.

The training of psychiatrists in the United States is still brainless.1 To become a board-certified psychiatrist, only 2 months of training in clinical neurology are required. After 4 years of residency training, most graduates start their lifelong career as psychiatrists with little knowledge of clinical neuroscience.

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