‘Decision neuroscience’ to shed light on mental health disorders
By William Smith
Scientists are interested in finding out more about ‘decision neuroscience’ as they feel that the ability to understand exactly what is going on in our brains while we are making decisions could help with the understanding of the brain as well as give more insight into mental health disorders.
Early research shows that it may be possible to divide the complexity of thinking into individual parts. Thus determining how each component is integrated as we think and make decisions.
Researchers in decision neuroscience held discussions about their work and how this cutting-edge field came about. They believe that this branch of neuroscience may advance our understanding of the brain as well as giving more insight into a variety of mental disorders ranging from schizophrenia to depression.
‘For many psychiatric disorders, patients that are symptomatic are frequently making poor decisions about numerous things throughout the day, such as how they handle their anxiety and other emotional states, said C. Daniel Salzman, MD, Ph.D., Department f Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Kavli Institute for Brain Science, Columbia University School of Medicine.
‘If you’ve ever had a friend or family member wit depression, you can see tey are not making decisions the way they normally do. So there clearly has to be dysfunction in the neurocircuits of psychiatric patients affecting their decisions, and we need to understand this better in order to come p with better treatments for mental disorders,’ Salzman said.
Another researcher pointed out that this research is already deepening the understanding of these disorders.
Xiao-Jing Wang Ph.D., said ‘Our new knowledge about the cellular and circuit mechanisms of working memory and decision processes in the brain has already had a significant impact on clinical studies of mental illness. For instance, addiction is fundamentally a problem of making bad choices, resulting from impaired reward signaling and decision-making circuits in the brain. Understanding these circuits has become key to linking genes and molecules with behaviour in clinical studies.’
‘When people face the same decision, they tend to make different choices,’ said Daeyeol Lee, Ph.D., another colleague of Salzman.
‘Some of that is due to their different experiences and learning environment. There are also fundamental genetic differences that give rise to different decision making styles. Getting a better understanding of the neurobiological basis for those individual differences in decision making will have enormous implications. It can explain a lot of problems in our society, including differences in the tendency to develop psychiatric illnesses,’ Lee concluded.
Source: The Kavli Foundation