The fixation on brain chemistry

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According to Robert Langreth

Whether or not optogenetics itself becomes a therapy, Deisseroth hopes he will help psychiatrists move beyond the simplistic concept that mental illness is caused by depressed levels of brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. This approach has led to drugs like Prozac. But the fixation on brain chemistry is stifling progress, he believes. It ignores the way the brain really works: as a high-speed data processor. “This idea that psychiatric diseases are due to altered levels of neurotransmitters can’t be the case,” says a frustrated Deisseroth. “Yet it is the dominant paradigm in psychiatry.”

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