Psychology & Psychiatry

Autism behaviors show unique brain network fingerprints in infants

A new study has identified unique functional brain networks associated with characteristic behaviors of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 12- and 24-month old children at risk for developing ASD. The study is published in ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Children who experience violence early in life develop faster

A study in Biological Psychiatry has shown that exposure to violence early in life—such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse—is associated with faster biological aging, including pubertal development and a cellular ...

Neuroscience

Cocaine addiction traced to increase in number of orexin neurons

A study in cocaine-addicted rats reports long-lasting increases in the number of neurons that produce orexin—a chemical messenger important for sleep and appetite—that may be at the root of the addiction. The study, performed ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Brain function impacts how experiences contribute to depression

A study in adolescent girls reports that recent life events impact depressive symptoms differently, depending on how the brain responds to winning and losing. A strong brain response to winning boosted the beneficial impact ...

Autism spectrum disorders

New biomarker panel could accelerate autism diagnoses

Investigators at the UC Davis MIND Institute and NeuroPointDX, a division of Stemina Biomarker Discovery, have identified a group of blood metabolites that could help detect some children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Study identifies 'compulsivity circuit' in heavy alcohol drinkers

Heavy alcohol drinkers attempt to acquire alcohol despite the threat of a negative consequence more so than light drinkers, a study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging has found, and this behavior ...

Alzheimer's disease & dementia

Asymmetrical neuron loss in Alzheimer's

As Alzheimer's disease progresses, neuron loss leads to marked lateral asymmetries in brain structure. A new LMU study has now identified genetic variants that promote the emergence of asymmetrical brain atrophy in Alzheimer's ...

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Biological psychiatry

Biological psychiatry, or biopsychiatry is an approach to psychiatry that aims to understand mental disorder in terms of the biological function of the nervous system. It is interdisciplinary in its approach and draws on sciences such as neuroscience, psychopharmacology, biochemistry, genetics and physiology to investigate the biological bases of behaviour and psychopathology. Biopsychiatry is that branch/speciality of medicine,which deals with the study of biological function of the nervous system in mental disorders.

While there is some overlap between biological psychiatry and neurology, the latter generally focuses on disorders where gross or visible pathology of the nervous system is apparent, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, encephalitis, neuritis, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. There is some overlap with neuropsychiatry, which typically deals with behavioural disturbance in the context of apparent brain disorder.

Biological psychiatry and other approaches to mental illness are not mutually exclusive, but may simply attempt to deal with the phenomena at different levels of explanation. Because of the focus on the biological function of the nervous system, however, biological psychiatry has been particularly important in developing and prescribing drug-based treatments for mental disorders.

In practice, however, psychiatrists may advocate both medication and psychological therapies when treating mental illness. The therapy is more likely to be conducted by clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, occupational therapists or other mental health workers who are more specialised and trained in non-drug approaches.

The history of the field extends back to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, but the term biological psychiatry was first used in peer-reviewed scientific literature in 1953. The term is more commonly used in the US than in some other countries such as the UK. The field, however, is not without its critics and the phrase "biological psychiatry" is sometimes used by those critics as a term of disparagement.

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