Neuropsychiatric disease is a public health challenge. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that psychiatric disorders are the most expensive of all health problems. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2015), psychiatric illness affects 1 in 5 Americans, with at least 6% of these individuals suffering from serious disability. Unfortunately, our understanding of the etiology of many of these conditions, from schizophrenia to autism, is poor. In the absence of understanding the primary cause of these conditions, treatment is difficult and often ineffective. These conditions are life-long and are devastating to families where a loved one is affected. The faculty members at the University of Minnesota who do research in this area have devoted significant efforts in order to understand, prevent, and treat psychiatric illnesses. This rich and growing area of expertise in the Graduate Program of Neuroscience has over 35 faculty members working to understand these complex brain processes.
Specific research areas include: understanding psychopathology and neural substrates of fear; molecular basis of behavior in normal and in affective disorders; how disruptions of brain connectivity influence the pathophysiology, prognosis, and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders; understanding hormone and neuronal control of normal and pathological behaviors including depression, motivation, and addiction; functional architecture of the brain as it relates to neural network dysfunction in psychiatric disorders; dysregulation of cell excitability as it relates to neuropsychiatric disorders; and the role of striatum in mental illness and autism.