Future Progress

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Science  15 Dec 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5499, pp. 2033
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5499.2033c

The prevalence and complexity and societal costs of mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and unipolar depression, are detailed in a set of reviews with a preface by Hyman. What emerges is the realization that the understanding of the biological bases of these disorders is fragmentary. From twin and familial studies, there clearly are strong genetic components to many of these disorders, but multiple loci are likely to be involved. Effective pharmacological intervention has hinted at specific neurotransmitter systems, but the diversity of transmitters and overlapping receptor affinities have thwarted any simple linkage of behavioral and molecular phenotypes. More recently, brain imaging investigations have identified candidate structural and functional abnormalities, but these, too, have been hard to incorporate into a satisfying mechanistic explanation. What brings future progress in understanding within reach, however, is the promise of integrated efforts based on advances in systems neuroscience and the human genome. — GJC

Neuron28, 321 (2000).

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