Changing brains: why neuroscience is ending the Prozac era
2013-11-07 0:00

By Vaughan Bell | The Guardian

The psychiatric drug age may have reached its peak. Although mind-altering medications are being prescribed in record numbers, signs of a radically new approach to understanding and treating mental illness are emerging from the deep waters of neuroscience. No longer focused on developing pills, a huge research effort is now devoted to altering the function of specific neural circuits by physical intervention in the brain.

The starkest indication that drugs are increasingly being thought of as yesterday’s cutting-edge comes from the little mentioned fact that almost all the major drug companies have closed or curtailed their drug discovery programmes for mental and neurological disorders. The realisation that there has been little in the way of genuine innovation since the major classes of psychiatric drugs were discovered in the 1950s has made future sales look bleak. New drugs have regularly appeared since then, often with fewer side effects, but most are little better in terms of effectiveness.

This is largely because these drugs tend not to be very specific in their effects on the brain. For example, the medication fluoxetine (better known as Prozac) alters levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in brain networks related to mood, but it has the same effect in brain networks involved in sexual response, leading to the common side effect of difficulty with orgasm. The pharmaceutical holy grail has been to develop drugs that are more selective in their effects, but this multibillion dollar dream has largely been ditched by Big Pharma as too difficult.

In its place is a science focused on understanding the brain as a series of networks, each of which supports a different aspect of our experience and behaviour. By this analysis, the brain is a bit like a city: you can’t make sense of the bigger picture without knowing how everything interacts.

[...]

Perhaps more surprising for some is the explosion in deep brain stimulation procedures, where electrodes are implanted in the brains of patients to alter electronically the activity in specific neural circuits. Medtronic, just one of the manufacturers of these devices, claims that its stimulators have been used in more than 100,000 patients. Most of these involve well-tested and validated treatments for Parkinson’s disease, but increasingly they are being trialled for a wider range of problems. Recent studies have examined direct brain stimulation for treating pain, epilepsy, eating disorders, addiction, controlling aggression, enhancing memory and for intervening in a range of other behavioural problems.


Read the full article at: theguardian.com



Related Articles
How Big Pharma recycles old drugs—even bad ones
Big Pharma is Trendy and Cool: Olsen Twins’ Designer Bag Covered in Drugs
Seven Diseases Big Pharma Hopes You Get in 2012
Big Pharma & Media Unleash New Attack on Vitamins
Hackers backdoor the human brain, successfully extract sensitive data
Mind Control: DARPA works on reading brains in real time
Stanford neuroscientist: ’We’re now able to eavesdrop on the brain in real life’
Mind Control: DARPA works on reading brains in real time
MIT Neuroscientists Can Implant Fake Memories into the Brain
This Neuroscientist Worries That Facebook Phone Will Change Our Brains


Latest News from our Front Page

Stephen Hawking: humanity needs to live in space or die out, physicist warns via hologram
2015-04-28 3:05
Humans should go and live in space within the next 1,000 years, or it will die out, Stephen Hawking has warned. "We must continue to go into space for the future of humanity," Mr Hawking said. "I don't think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet." Hawking issued the warning during one of two talks at the ...
What's wrong with the Swedes - and so many other Whites?
2015-04-28 3:14
Another in the unending list of suicidal behavior by Swedes, this one by Cecilia Wilkström, a Member of the European Parliament for the center-right (!) Liberal Party, who is concerned about the recent drownings in the Mediterranean of Africans attempting to invade Europe. Note that, once again, the Holocaust is front and center stage as a paradigm requiring Westerners to ...
Scenes of Chaos in Baltimore
2015-04-28 2:20
A largely peaceful protest over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a spinal cord injury in police custody, gave way to scattered scenes of chaos here on Saturday night, as demonstrators smashed a downtown storefront window, threw rocks and bottles and damaged police cruisers, while officers in riot gear broke up skirmishes and made 12 ...
MSNBC Guest: "You Don't Have to Have a White Person Around to Have White Supremacy Play Out"
2015-04-27 22:36
What makes the academic study of “white supremacy” and “white privilege” so perfect for racialists is that it requires absolutely no parameters of study. There are no standards of proof. There is no way any claims can be vetted in peer-reviewed journals because the “evidence” can be explained by other factors. Anything and everything can be pointed to as being ...
Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs
2015-04-27 22:23
Immigration - Global humanitarian reasons for current U.S. immigration are tested in this updated version of immigration author and journalist Roy Beck's colorful presentation of data from the World Bank and U.S. Census Bureau. The 1996 version of this immigration gumballs presentation has been one of the most viewed immigration policy presentations on the internet. Presented by immigration author/journalist Roy Beck Learn ...
More News »