Your work is fascinating. It is frightening to think about neurotransmitters in the brain being manipulated to reduce or eliminate depressed behaviors. How do you foresee these malfunctions in brain circuitry and synaptic connections being treated?

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Robert C. Malenka, M.D., Ph.D. - Brain & behavior research expert on depression

The hope of all neuroscience researchers is that by defining the malfunctions in brain circuitry that underlie the symptoms of major mental illnesses we will open the door to very novel ways of developing new treatments. It would be wonderful if findings from this new type of research identifies a single target to which a medication could be made that reverses the circuit abnormalities. A single, new, effective medication would alleviate the suffering of millions of inadequately treated patients. However, the reality is that the brain and its circuits are incredibly complicated and it is unlikely that some ‘magic bullet’ will be found that can fix malfunctioning brain circuitry. It is much more likely that over the next decade or two we will learn how to use a combination of treatments (i.e., new medications, psychotherapy, perhaps direct manipulation of brain activity with magnetic waves) more effectively to reverse the abnormalities in brain circuitry that cause major symptoms.

 

Robert C. Malenka, M.D., Ph.D.
Scientific Council Member
1990, 1992 and 2007 NARSAD Grantee
2010 Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement
in Cognitive Neuroscience
Pritzker Professor in Psychiatry and Behavorial Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine