Wednesday, March 11, 2009

EMax Health: Identification, Characterization Of Sensitive Periods For Neurodevelopment Of Mental Illness

Submitted by ruzik_tuzik on Mar 10th, 2009

Identification and characterization of sensitive periods for neurodevelopment of mental illnesses is a new initiative, that will stimulate neurodevelopmental research in humans and animals that will increase our understanding of the neurobiology underlying developmentally sensitive periods for risk, resilience, and intervention.

Rationale and Description

The goal of this initiative is to accelerate and stimulate research on sensitive periods (i.e., periods during which the developing brain is maximally sensitive to environmental influences that confer risk or resilience) for the neurodevelopment of mental illness. While brain development may start from a genetic blueprint, it is the overlay of experience that shapes development and leads to either normal function or pyschopathology.

We have limited knowledge of either the timing and specificity of sensitive periods in humans or the neurobiological trajectories in mental disorders. By increasing research focused on sensitive periods in behaviors related to mental health, the field will make exponential progress in the treatment of mental illness. Furthermore, with more fundamental information on sensitive periods in humans, we can develop more specific and focused hypotheses about mechanisms to be tested in preclinical animal models. Therefore, the potential advances gained from this initiative are essential for the ultimate understanding, prevention, and cure of mental disorders.

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