As I mentioned on previous blog entries, I believe the brain and the mind overlap to some degree but also there should be a free brain area without mind and a free mind area without brain. Because our medications act on the brain but not on the mind itself, our knowledge of this interface is most useful to treat psychological and psychiatric conditions, in my opinion.
The Allen Brain Science Institute has identified over 20,000 genes responsible of brain activity and has created an atlas. Having this important knowledge, the next step would be to understand the effect and the functioning of these genes. Imaging studies such as fMRI and MRI Spectroscopy could help understand these cellular processes by evaluating brain function and brain chemistry.
The NIH has started working on the Human Connectome Project looking for brain circuitry. In my opinion, understanding the brain circuitry related to mental processes and states as well as the cellular mechanisms involved, will help us develop drugs that will target more specifically mental activity with less side effects. Also, if we apply Pharmacogenomics to psychiatric medications, we will be able to more efficiently treat psychiatric conditions.
An interesting paper related to this topic is the following:
Jones, AR, etal, Mapping The Mind, Scientific American Mind, September/October 2010, pp 57 – 63.
Adolfo Cotter, MD