Neurobiologist David Anderson says, “The brain is not a bag of chemical soup, and it’s a mistake to try to treat complex psychiatric disorders just by changing the flavor.”
In his lab at the California Institute of Technology, neurobiologist David Anderson is working on finding the “neural underpinnings of emotions like fear, anxiety and anger.” By studying the brains of lab mice and fruit flies, Anderson hopes to answer some of the really difficult questions in the mental health field. Questions like, “How is emotional behavior encoded in the brain? And what parts of the brain are affected by depression, ADHD and anxiety?”
Anderson hopes that his research will help to “advance a more nuanced view of psychiatric disorders — that they aren’t the result of a simple ‘chemical imbalance,’ but of a chemical imbalance at a specific site that has a specific emotional consequences.” Anderson’s goal is to “pave the way” for new treatments to be developed for psychiatric disorders that are much more targeted and have significantly fewer side effects.
[Psychiatric] drugs have so many side effects because using them to treat a complex psychiatric disorder is a bit like trying to change your engine oil by opening a can and pouring it all over the engine block. Some of it will dribble into the right place, but a lot of it will do more harm than good.