Experts urge new discipline combining benefits of neuroscience and psychology treatments

Experts urge new discipline combining benefits of neuroscience and psychology treatments

(Medical Xpress)—When a patient talks with a psychological therapist, what changes occur in the patient's brain that relieve mental disorders? UCLA psychology professor Michelle Craske says the honest answer is that we don't know. But, according to Craske and two colleagues, we need to find out.

Mental health disorders—such as depression, schizophrenia, , obsessive–compulsive disorder and eating disorders—affect 1 in 4 people worldwide. Psychological treatments "hold the strongest evidence base for addressing many such conditions," but they need improvement, according to a study by Craske, Cambridge University professor Emily Holmes and MIT professor Ann Graybiel.

Their article was published online July 16 in the journal Nature.

For some conditions, such as bipolar disorder, are not effective or are in their infancy, the life scientists report, and a "culture gap" between neuroscientists and clinical scientists has hindered the progress of treatments. The authors call on scientists from both disciplines to work together to advance the understanding and treatment of .

Psychological treatments, they say, have not benefitted much from the dramatic advances neuroscience has made in understanding emotions and behavior. The reason may be that neuroscientists and clinical scientists "meet infrequently, rarely work together, read different journals, and know relatively little of each other's needs and discoveries," write Craske, a faculty member in the UCLA College, and her colleagues.

The authors advocate steps for closing the culture gap: First, uncover the mechanisms of existing psychological treatments. There is, they note, a very effective behavioral technique for phobias and anxiety disorders called exposure therapy; patients learn that what they fear is not as harmful as they think, and their fears are greatly reduced by the repeated presence of the object of their fear.

Second, the paper states, neuroscience is providing "unprecedented" insights that can relieve dysfunctional behavior—practitioners can use those insights to create new and improved psychological treatments. Third, the authors urge, the next generation of clinical scientists and neuroscientists should work more closely together. They propose a new umbrella discipline they call "mental health science" to marry the benefits of both disciplines.

"There is enormous promise," they conclude. "Psychological treatments are a lifeline to so many—and could be to so many more."

More information: The complete article is available online: www.nature.com/news/psychologi… alth-science-1.15541

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Preventing the adverse effects of psychological therapies

May 27, 2014

In the AdEPT study (understanding and preventing the Adverse Effects of Psychological Therapies), researchers from the University's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and the Department of Psychology, ...

Recommended for you

Updating memory for fact and fiction

6 hours ago

Sunlight can make people sneeze. Sounds ludicrous? But it's true - it's called a photic sneeze reflex, and can occur in about one out of four people. Did you believe that fingerprints are unique to each individual? That, ...

Wide-faced men negotiate nearly $2,200 larger signing bonus

7 hours ago

Having a wider face helps men when they negotiate for themselves but hurts them when they are negotiating in a situation that requires compromise. Additionally, men who are more attractive are better collaborators compared ...

Can you be addicted to the internet?

7 hours ago

A McMaster researcher is trying to understand how much time people spend online – and whether their habits pose a danger to their physical or mental health.

Controlling childbirth pain tied to lower depression risk

15 hours ago

Controlling pain during childbirth and post delivery may reduce the risk of postpartum depression, writes Katherine Wisner, M.D., a Northwestern Medicine® perinatal psychiatrist, in a July 23 editorial in Anesthesia & An ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jim4321
1 / 5 (1) Jul 18, 2014
So, what is the neurological basis of the energy swings experienced in bipolar disease?