Exploring genetic influences on cognition: emerging strategies for target validation and treatment optimization.
Drug Delivery Systems
Genomic research has produced an abundance of new candidate targets that remain to be validated as potential treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders. Functional neuroimaging, meanwhile, has provided detailed new insights into the neural circuits involved in emotional and cognitive control. At the growing interface between these independent lines of progress, new efforts are underway to unify our understanding of regional brain function with that of genetic and biochemical influences on behavior. Such a unified understanding of the mechanisms involved in cognitive and emotional control may open up new avenues for therapeutic intervention at the pharmacological and behavioral levels. In line with this, a new initiative sponsored by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) aims to bridge gaps between clinical diagnostics and the molecular processes that influence susceptibility to psychiatric disorders. A major goal of this initiative is to identify the neural and neurochemical substrates of basic cognitive processes that are disrupted in psychiatric disorders and to examine the influence of genetic factors at the cognitive level. This review describes some well-known findings that are at the forefront of this interface. The progress already made indicates that the goals of the new initiative are well founded and achievable.