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🔑 Key Takeaways

  1. Channel options technology developed by Dr. Carl Dro can revolutionize treatment for psychiatric illnesses and nervous system disorders by precisely controlling neuron activity with light. Projections, Dr. Dro's book, reveals the motivation for his groundbreaking discovery.
  2. Stigma surrounding psychiatric disorders can hinder patients from seeking help. Quantitative tests, such as external EEGs, show potential for objective diagnosis, but psychiatrists still face the challenge of relying on subjective descriptions of emotions.
  3. Psychiatry requires understanding individual patients' baseline behavior and emotions, potentially using technology to measure physical behaviors. Despite advancing knowledge, there is still much to learn about the complexities of the human mind.
  4. Non-invasive monitoring and talk therapy can aid in identifying depression, while effective treatments for various psychiatric diseases, such as panic disorder and schizophrenia, exist to turn around patients' lives.
  5. Understanding the underlying processes of psychiatric disorders through basic science can help develop more effective treatments and potentially cure disorders like autism, Parkinson's, and schizophrenia. Seizures as a treatment for depression may be effective but the relief is not understood, and basic science can identify key principles governing social interaction in autism.
  6. Optogenetics, a technique that allows for real-time manipulation of cells, can unlock principles of animal behavior and neural codes in mammal's brains, providing insights into brain function and typical behaviors.
  7. Optogenetics is a technology that targets specific cells using light to manipulate behavior, leading to a better understanding of brain circuitry and improved therapies for mental illnesses.
  8. Life can take unexpected turns that lead to unexpected passions and opportunities. Even when things don't go according to plan, new paths can lead to amazing discoveries and contributions to society.
  9. Algae engineering, channel redon technology, and electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve offer exciting possibilities for treating depression. While research continues to find new treatments, a willingness to try new approaches is crucial in the search for effective solutions.
  10. Optogenetics can revolutionize treatment by precisely stimulating specific neurons using engineered viruses and light-sensitive options. Precise gene and light delivery are challenges that can be overcome with outpatient procedures.
  11. Electrical stimulation of the nervous system and monitoring real-time effects, along with the use of visual cues, can help doctors diagnose and treat mental health patients effectively and non-invasively. Tiny stamps controlled via a smartphone app are already being used daily.
  12. Eye contact can reveal important information about a patient's mood, but psychiatrists also rely on body language and tone of voice. Optogenetics offers promise for specific treatments, but specificity remains a challenge in psychiatry.
  13. Physicians may benefit from personal experience with psychiatric medications to empathize with their patients, but clinical decisions cannot solely rely on personal experience. Research into more specific and minimally invasive options is progressing, but caution is necessary in refining treatments for accuracy and efficacy.
  14. Optogenetics helps identify specific cells related to psychiatric symptoms for medication development while brain-machine interfaces provide powerful treatment options, but require careful consideration for risks.
  15. ADHD is a psychiatric disorder with symptoms of hyperactivity or inattention and can be treated with stimulants. Quantitative EEG-based diagnoses and lifestyle factors may affect ADHD. Simple closed-loop devices can detect and stimulate as we understand more about the brain.
  16. Managing technology use is vital for productivity and mental health. Prioritize time for yourself and focus on goals to prevent social and occupational dysfunction.
  17. Discipline and minimizing distractions is crucial for productive thinking. Verbalizing and persevering through roadblocks is key. Foster language appreciation in children. Stillness and grappling with challenges can train the mind.
  18. By embracing life's various stages and incorporating dedicated practices, like hydrogel tissue chemistry, we can learn to adapt and improve our abilities. We must also recognize the learning potential of animals.
  19. Studies on dissociative agents like ketamine, using optogenetics, help understand how dissociation affects the brain and can help patients with conditions like borderline personality disorder and PTSD. Gain of function research in the lab plays a crucial role in advancing neuroscience.
  20. Psychedelic compounds can offer new interventions for therapy, but their effects must be understood and used carefully. The goal is to create treatments without the risks of lasting change or addiction, which can greatly benefit patients with various types of mental health issues.
  21. Psychedelics may increase openness to new possibilities and improve depression by rewiring circuitry. MDMA affects dopamine and serotonin levels, leading to positive post-experience effects.
  22. Building an intimate connection and empathy between patient and therapist is key in creating a stable model for future behavior. Dr. Deisseroth's book 'Projections' offers hope and optimism for the progress of neurobiology and psychiatry. Follow him on Twitter for updates on the field.

📝 Podcast Summary

Neurology deals with disorders that can be seen physically, while psychiatry is more mysterious and deals with disorders where no measurable physical anomaly is present. While neurologists use medical scans and other measurable tools for treatment, psychiatrists rely on words and rating scales for measuring symptoms. The channel options and related technologies developed in Dr. Carl Dro's lab stand to transform the way psychiatric illnesses and movement and perception disorders are treated. The remarkable technology can precisely control the activity of neurons in the brain and body with the use of light and have already helped an adult fully blind human being see light for the first time. Carl's recently published book, Projections sheds light on the motivation for and discovery of the channel options and other technologies being used to treat nervous system disorders.

Challenges in Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders

The lack of speech can be a symptom of psychiatric disorders like depression, negative symptoms of schizophrenia, and autism. Depression can also be comorbid with neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease. There is a need for some words to help guide psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. Quantitative tests for psychiatric diseases using external EEGs to look at brain waves are being developed. The biggest challenge facing psychiatry is the strong stigma associated with mental illness that prevents patients from seeking help and can lead to worsening symptoms. As a psychiatrist, diagnosing and treating patients with words is a challenge due to the dearth of objective ways of comparing emotions or feelings.

Understanding the Basics of Psychiatry and the Future of Diagnosis and Treatment

Psychiatry involves getting past jargon and understanding how patients actually feel. Vegetative signs like sleep and eating patterns are useful criteria for diagnosing depression. However, it is important to establish a baseline for each patient and understand how their behavior and emotions have changed from that baseline. This can be challenging and may raise ethical issues, but advances in technology offer potential solutions. In the future, psychiatry may rely on a combination of words and measurements of physical behaviors to better understand and treat mental health conditions. Despite efforts towards introspection, psychiatrists still do not have all the answers and must continually strive to improve their understanding of the complexities of the human mind.

Identifying and Treating Mental Health Conditions

Patients may not always be able to self-report depressive symptoms to their clinician, but non-invasive monitoring of changes in voice inflection or early morning awakening may provide early warning signs of depression. Psychiatry offers various treatments for patients with psychiatric diseases, from cognitive behavioral therapy to medications and electroconvulsive therapy. Effective treatments exist for conditions such as panic disorder and schizophrenia, which can have a powerful effect quickly and turn around patients' lives. While modern technology can aid in detecting early warning signs of depression, talk therapy and observations from family members or clinicians can also be instrumental in identifying patients' conditions and starting treatment.

The Need for Basic Science in Psychiatric Treatment

Psychiatry lacks the level of understanding that cardiology has, as we do not fully comprehend the circuitry of the brain. Most psychiatric treatments have been discovered serendipitously, and we need basic science to pinpoint the underlying processes of psychiatric disorders. Seizures are an effective but imprecise treatment for depression, and the relief from seizures on depression is yet to be understood. Understanding the natural biology and activity patterns, as well as modifying them, may be necessary to cure disorders like autism, Parkinson's, and schizophrenia. Autism symptoms improving with fever may be due to the temperature change altering how neurons work. Basic science can help identify the key principle governing social interaction in autism.

Optogenetics: A Revolutionary Tool to Understand Brain Function

Neuroscientists study complex data streams in the brain to understand the circuits and cells involved in typical and atypical behavior. Tools like optogenetics, using genes from single-celled algae, allow for fast and real-time manipulation of activity within cells or kinds of cells to understand the importance of sensation, cognition, and action. Understanding animal behavior, like that of the algae, helps unlock principles of animal behavior and neural codes in mammal's brains. Working in parallel, discovering and manipulating circuits and cells can reveal how typical behaviors occur. Optogenetics is a critical tool in these investigations, and it provides an opportunity for scientists to study brain function in response to light-guided flagellum motors.

How Optogenetics is Revolutionizing Neuroscience

Optogenetics is a powerful technology that allows scientists to control cells using light. Over the years, scientists have been able to develop and refine optogenetics to target specific cells using channel rhodopsins. Optogenetics has been used to manipulate the behavior of mice and other animals, and excitingly, recently on humans who are blind. The technology has enabled researchers to better understand how the circuitry of the brain works, which is essential in developing more targeted therapies for mental illnesses. Optogenetics represents a broader significance that goes beyond directly curing patients to finding ways to indirectly help their cells work better by understanding which cells matter most and developing treatments.

Embracing the twists and turns of life: From poetry to neuroscience.

It's okay to embrace the twists and turns of life. Dr. Karl Deisseroth developed a fascination with the brain early on due to his love of poetry and stories. He became interested in studying the human brain in college with a goal of becoming a neurosurgeon, but a required rotation in psychiatry changed his life. Dr. Deisseroth now works towards understanding and helping patients with psychiatric disorders using his expertise in neuroscience and has developed methods to control neurons with algae proteins using light. His work in real-time activation of the vagus nerve has shown positive results in severely depressed patients. A patient's reality can be different from our own, and as a scientist, it's amazing and interesting to try and understand it.

Novel Approaches for Combatting Depression

Algae engineering and channel redon technology can be used to turn on or off specific regions in the brain to alleviate depressive symptoms. Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve offers a non-invasive and accessible way to get into the brain. The test pilot mentality is necessary to try out new treatments and find something that works. Medicine has immense potential to cure and treat diseases but it also comes with side effects. Vagus nerve stimulation is FDA-approved for depression but the effect sizes are pretty small on average. Research continues to find new and improved treatments for depression and other diseases.

Exploring Optogenetics for Targeted Cell Stimulation

Researchers are exploring optogenetics, a method that uses light to target specific cells, to improve treatment for various conditions. Optogenetics could be helpful in delivering precision stimulation to specific cells, such as certain neurons that cause symptom relief, without affecting nearby cells. However, this method requires detailed knowledge regarding which cells are responsible for specific symptoms. Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs), which are safe and have been engineered to be well-tolerated, can deliver the genes required. Additionally, researchers have developed light-sensitive options that can be activated using intense enough light of the right wavelength. While precise gene delivery and light delivery are challenges faced in this method, outpatient procedures can help overcome them.

Innovative Techniques for Treating Mental Health Issues.

Doctors can use electrical stimulation of the nervous system and monitor real-time effects to treat patients with mental health issues. This involves gradually increasing the stimulation while ensuring that the patient is not experiencing any side effects. Patients typically experience therapeutic benefits after a few days or weeks of electrical stimulation. Doctors can also use visual cues like a patient's eyes to diagnose and monitor mental health conditions. The nervous system can be manipulated for mental health treatment using tiny stamps that can be placed under the skin and controlled via a smartphone app. This technology is already being used routinely by doctors to treat their patients.

The Significance of Eye Contact and Data Streams in Psychiatry and Optogenetics

Eye contact is incredibly important for social interaction, but it can also be avoided or go awry, particularly in individuals with autism. Psychiatrists learn to hone in on different data streams, whether it's eye contact, body language, or a person's tone of voice over the phone, to identify changes in a patient's mood and make key decisions. The eyes are a portal to overall arousal state and can provide information on the effects of light on circadian biology. Optogenetics shows promise in providing more specific treatments for psychiatric disorders, but currently the most effective treatments have the least specificity and lack of specificity remains a challenge in psychiatry.

Balancing the Benefits and Side Effects of Psychiatric Medications

Psychiatric medications, although effective, often have significant side effects that can impact a patient's quality of life. Physicians who prescribe these medications, especially psychiatrists, may benefit from personal experience with these drugs to better understand and empathize with their patients. However, clinical decisions cannot rely solely on personal experience, and medications with the most side effects might still be the most effective option for some patients. As research into neuromodulators and targeted treatments progresses, the hope is for more specific and minimally invasive options, such as medications and outpatient neurosurgery. However, caution is necessary in refining treatments to ensure accuracy and efficacy.

Optogenetics and Brain-Machine Interfaces: Advancements in Mental Health Treatment

Optogenetics can arm us with true causal understanding of circuits and cells that control symptoms like anhedonia or lack of motivation, paving the way for more specific and less side-effect prone medication development. The work done with channel options can help identify the cells that matter and their constituents like proteins and receptors, making medication development not just serendipitous, but truly grounded in causality. This could lead to pill-based treatments targeting specific cells related to psychiatric symptoms and could happen relatively swiftly. While brain-machine interfaces can help understand what's going on in the brain for treatment ideas, it's still invasive and requires careful consideration for risks. Deep brain stimulation and closed-loop brain-machine interfaces can offer powerful treatment options for psychiatric disorders by intervening in a closed-loop way.

The Future of ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment

ADHD is a psychiatric disorder that has symptoms of a hyperactive or inattentive state, which can be treated with stimulants. A diagnosis of ADHD requires the presence of symptoms across different domains of life, such as school and home. Quantitative EEG-based diagnoses are being developed, where particular externally detectable brainwave rhythms are measured in a clinic setting. Lifestyle factors such as phone use could induce a subclinical or clinical-like ADHD. With the increasing knowledge of pathological patterns in cells and circuits, simple closed loop devices can detect and stimulate, which will be part of psychiatry in the future. The ability to help people with ADHD symptoms will become more powerful as we understand more about the brain.

The Connection Between Ticks and Phone Addiction

People with ticks often have a build-up of something that can only be relieved by executing the tick, which can be a motor movement, vocalization or even a thought. Similarly, people today also have a build-up of the need to check their phone, which can be relieving and rewarding. However, unless it impairs social or occupational functioning, it cannot be diagnosed as a psychiatric disorder. Opting out of communication these days can make someone less adaptive. People should manage their interactions and bring the horizon into the unit of the day, taking it day by day. It is essential to preserve time for thinking and focus on goals and priorities. The key to managing stress and maintaining productivity is to prioritize time for yourself.

The Importance of Protecting Focused Thinking Time for Productivity and Language Appreciation

Protecting small, focused times where one can think is important for productivity. Discipline is key in not checking phones or succumbing to distractions. When thinking, some people are extremely verbal in their thoughts, constructing sentences and obsessing over word placement. Hitting roadblocks when writing can be aversive, but the knowledge that a solution is within reach can provide a propulsive force forward. Children can have different skills and interests, but a shared appreciation for language can be fostered. Practicing staying physically still and grappling with challenges can train the mind, even in professions like laboratory science where motion is emphasized.

Training for Life's Different Modes with Hydrogel Tissue Chemistry

Embracing the different stages of life that come with different modes is essential. People can train themselves for different modes by incorporating dedicated practices. Hydrogel tissue chemistry, which helps to transform tissue into a more tractable object, is a groundbreaking discovery. Clarity is the first form of hydrogel tissue chemistry that helped create transparent brains. Understanding the human brain's microstructure is complex, and there is much to learn. Although we assume humans do things better, we must be careful not to overlook what animals can do.

Ketamine and the Neuroscience of Dissociation

Dissociation is a common condition in more than 70% of people who have experienced trauma and shows up in borderline personality and ptsd. Ketamine is a dissociative drug that can be studied in mice and humans to understand the circuit basis of dissociation. Mice were administered with dissociative agents and were still able to detect stimulus but not care that it was happening, all while the activity of individual cells in the brain was recorded to see what was going on with the dissociation. Optogenetics was used in both animals and patients to take away and activate the same structure or group of structures which gave causality. Gain of function research in the laboratory is very important for understanding the brain.

Exploring the Potential of Psychedelics in Medicine

Psychedelic compounds like LSD and psilocybin can alter reality and the experience of reality. While their effects can be addictive and may cause lasting change, they can also be an incredible opportunity for creating new interventions. Studies are being conducted to understand how perception of reality is altered by psychedelics, with the ultimate goal of creating treatments that don't have the risks and problems of causing lasting change or addiction. These medications can be used in very small doses as adjunctive treatments for various kinds of therapy, but it must be done carefully and rigorously to minimize risks. The risks for these medications don't greatly outweigh the risks that we normally tolerate in other branches of medicine.

The effects of psychedelics on the brain and their potential benefits for mental health.

Psychedelics may increase the brain's willingness to accept unlikely ways of constructing the world and explore more paths into the future. The agents may also help in treating depression by increasing the flow of forward progression through circuitry and allowing the brain to see the value of their own actions. Mdma ecstasy is different from serotonergic compounds like LSD and psilocybin as it leads to big increases in brain levels of dopamine and serotonin simultaneously. The brain learns from the experiences of taking psychedelics and people can report seeing what is possible and connecting with more people in a helpful way even after the drug wears off.

The Importance of Connection and Learning in Psychoanalysis

The learning that happens in a state of intimate connection and empathy between patient and therapist is the hallmark feature of really good psychoanalysis. All good psychiatrists try to achieve that level of connection and learning to help patients create a stable model that can help instruct future behavior. Dr. Karl Deisseroth's book 'Projections' tries to jointly satisfy the goals of staying rigorously close to science while letting people see the hope and long way we have come in understanding neurobiology and psychiatry. He is optimistic about the trajectory and path of progress in science and hopes that it came through in his book. He is active on Twitter where he mainly exchanges information about happenings in the field.