Treating the developing brain: Implications from human imaging and mouse genetics
A fundamental issue in psychiatric medicine is the lack of empirical evidence indicating when, during development, a treatment will be most effective for a patient. We review behavioral and brain changes that occur across development, focusing on the period of adolescence, when there is a peak in diagnosis of many psychiatric disorders. We use anxiety disorders as an example because of their high prevalence in youth (affecting as many as 1 in 10). Basic forms of fear learning, which are at the core of anxiety disorders and are the targets of behavioral therapeutics, are examined as a function of age. We also discuss how fear learning has been genetically modulated in mice and humans. Based on these findings, we provide future directions for determining the efficacy of innovative therapies and preventive strategies for anxiety disorders as a function of age and potential genetic effects inferred from mice and humans.