2017 - 2018 Psychoanalytic Grand Rounds at Stanford

Nathan M. Szajnberg, MD, Chair

Program Title: A "Circuits-First" Approach to Mental Illness
Date: Friday, January 26, 2018
Time: 12:15pm - 01:30pm
Presenter: Amit Etkin, MD, PhD
Associate Professor
VA Palo Alto (Sierra-Pacific MIRECC)
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University
Chair: Nathan M. Szajnberg, MD
Location: Stanford Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Building
Room 1211
401 Quarry Road
Stanford, CA 94305
Program Fee: Free

Over the past two decades, neuroimaging studies have defined a set of distributed brain systems that contribute to cognition, emotion, mood and other mental processes. Perturbations in these circuits have been identified in different ways across psychiatric disorders. The challenge ahead of us is how to use these insights to: 1) understand the nature of neural circuit deficits in mental illnesses and their relevance for existing treatments, and 2) to develop novel circuit-based therapeutics.  I will discuss work in the lab defining the neural circuit abnormalities associated with psychiatric disorders as a whole, as well as specific changes associated with particular mood and anxiety disorders (and subgroups within them). I will then examine the mechanisms of current medication, psychotherapy and brain stimulation treatments within the context of a circuit-based understanding.  Finally, I will describe new methods for direct and non-invasive probing and manipulation of circuits and insights that this brings for the development of new circuit-targeting therapeutics.  Together, these data suggest that we are now on the brink of innovations in "rational" circuit-based diagnosis and treatments for mental illness. Success down this path will take us beyond use of symptom checklists for diagnosis, and one-size-fits all treatment with the psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic tools currently available.

Amit Etkin, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, a member of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, and an Investigator at the Palo Alto VA. He is trained as both as a neuroscientist and psychiatrist. The overarching aim of the Etkin lab is to understand the neural basis of emotional disorders and their treatment, and to leverage this knowledge to better understand how the brain works and to develop novel treatment interventions. In support of this goal, Dr. Etkin also collaborates with other neuroscientists, engineers, psychologists, physicians and others at Stanford to establish a new intellectual, scientific and clinical paradigm for understanding and manipulating human brain circuits in healthy individuals and for treating psychiatric disease.