John Murray helps map the individual variations of mental illness

(Illustration by Michael S. Helfenbein)
July 30, 2021

John Murray, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences and Yale Ph.D. 2013 in Physics, in Yale News (July 27, 2021), “New model helps map the individual variations of mental illness”.

The diagnosis of mental illnesses such as major depression, schizophrenia, or anxiety disorder is typically based on coarse groupings of symptoms. These symptoms, however, vary widely among individuals as do the brain circuits that cause them. This complexity explains why drug treatments work for some patients, but not others.

Now Yale researchers have developed a novel framework for “computational psychiatry” that blends neuroimaging, pharmacology, biophysical modeling, and neural gene expression that maps these variations in individual symptoms to specific neural circuits.

The findings, reported in tandem papers published in the journal eLife, promise to help create more targeted therapies for individual patients. The two studies were led, respectively, by Alan Anticevic and John Murray, associate professors of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

In one study, led by Murray and Ph.D. student Joshua Burt, researchers simulated the effects of drugs on brain circuits. They used a new neuroimaging technology which incorporates a computational model that includes data on patterns of neural gene expression.

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