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Translational Versus Traditional Neuroscience

Posted on August 11, 2014

Figuring out how the brain works on a normal level establishes a foundation for figuring out what leads to abnormal functioning, says Susanne Ahmari (bio).


I think the difference between regular and translational neuroscience is blurring a little bit more every day, which I think is very exciting, because I was raised in a basic neuroscience lab. My PhD was in very basic neuroscience. I looked at how synapses form in the hippocampus, using at that time very advanced microscopy techniques, and it wasn't clear how those findings would actually be relevant to human illness. But the more and more people that become interested in understanding the brain, the more we're realizing that, figuring out how the brain works on a normal level is very important to have a foundation so that then we can figure out what happens so that the brain actually doesn't function optimally in some of these illnesses.

So, I feel like the lines are getting blurred every day. People from the psychiatry world are communicating more closely with people from the basic neuroscience world and vice versa. And so we're all starting to look at these important questions like, how does synaptic function relate to the establishment of an abnormal repetitive behavior? And we need to know how synapses function properly before we can figure out how they function abnormally.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2014 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Pittsburgh, PA.


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