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March 2018

Advancing Clinical Improvements for Patients Using the Theory-Driven and Data-Driven Branches of Computational Psychiatry

Author Affiliations
  • 1Centre for Addictive Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Hospital of Psychiatry, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2Translational Neuromodeling Unit, Institute for Biomedical Engineering, University of Zürich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland
JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(3):225-226. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.4246

The brain is special: it computes. Which computations the brain is able to perform is determined both by its biology but also by the history of computations the brain has performed. An inability by the brain to compute adaptive solutions to the problems it faces can therefore give rise to mental illness both through mechanisms akin to those in other areas of medicine, such as cellular dysfunctions, but also through the consequence of “ill-learning,” for instance, after traumatic events. This line is blurry: illness can obviously give rise to ill-learning and ill-learning to illness, eg, through substance abuse often seen after trauma.

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