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Medical Serotonin, Dopamine, Glutamate, and the others

  1. Jun 19, 2012 #1
    Are medical doctors (psychiatrists/neurologists) able to predict which neurons will activate given the genetic sequencing of a certain individual? In turn, causing someone to act a certain way.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 19, 2012 #2
    No. Behaviour of a person is very complex and depends on more than just genetic sequencing.

    That doesn't mean we can make some predictions. For example, if a person is born in a family with depression problems, then there is a large chance that he will get depression as well. However, that doesn't mean that he WILL get depression.

    Much of the behaviour of a person comes also from his environment. Somebody who was abused as a child will have other behaviour than somebody who had a perfect childhood.
  4. Jun 20, 2012 #3
    I suffer from really bad OCD & Anxiety. I would love nothing more that to be part of the research team. I would love to do all kinds of medical research but I am an engineer, not a biochem/chem/biology major.
  5. Jul 1, 2012 #4
    why did you choose engineering instead then? better job perspective? more hands on experience? more relevant to your daily life? Is it too late for you to transition into biomedical engineering?
  6. Jul 1, 2012 #5
    Which neurons will activate when? And where?
    Mind you, neural connectivity isn't determined by genetics, so the answer is no, Research in this area (which is largely the domain of cognitive/computational neuroscience, not psychiatry or neurology) is almost always concerned with the statistical behaviour/dynamics of large populations of neurons.
  7. Jul 1, 2012 #6


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    Wooo, that is too strong a statement. Genetics is very important for neural connectivity, work in C. elegans or Drosophila have identified many genes that are involved. How would you expect the brain to form when there are no instructions? Behavior of simple organisms can be predicted by the neurons that are stimulated. Humans are many orders of magnitude more complex, we are far from understanding the human brain.
  8. Jul 1, 2012 #7
    Too strong, yes, but largely accurate for this particular question. The connectivity involved in local (i.e. neural ensembles) computations is so profoundly influenced by experience and environment that the genetic code will provide next to no insight if your goal is to "predict which neurones are firing" with the goal of predicting specific actions. The formation of most individual connections between neurons is largely algorithmic (where neurons are just following some instruction set that determines their connectivity based on their activity, and the activity of surrounding neurons and glia). If you want to understand what clusters of neurones are actually computing, you need statistics and dynamical systems, not genetics.
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