Professor David J. Anderson of the California Institute of Technology says the popular understanding of psychiatric disorders as chemical imbalances in the brain—‘as if it were some kind of bag of chemical soup full of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine’—stems from our oversimplified view of the biological basis of these disorders.
Anderson, the Seymour Benzer Professor of Biology at Caltech, studies brain circuits related to ‘fear’ and ‘aggression’ in fruit flies and laboratory mice. It is difficult to extrapolate those studies to the human brain, which is far more complicated and where conscious feelings are important. However, there could prove to be some similarities.
But, it is precisely because we know so little about psychiatric disorders that many pharma companies have abandoned the search for new neuropsychiatric drugs, he tells Ajay Sukumaran in an emailed interview.
Why is it...