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Home » Drugs, Dopamine and Drosophila – A Fly Model for ADHD: David Anderson (Transcript)

Drugs, Dopamine and Drosophila – A Fly Model for ADHD: David Anderson (Transcript)

Full text of neurobiologist David Anderson’s talk: Drugs, dopamine and drosophila — A fly model for ADHD? at TEDxCaltech conference.

Listen to MP3 Audio here:


David Anderson – Seymour Benzer Professor of Biology at Caltech

Hi, I would like to thank everybody first, who came down here to learn that Caltech is about more than rocket science and earthquakes. It’s not that JPL and rocket science and space exploration aren’t great. But those of us who are neuroscientists here know that the brain is the final frontier.

So, raise your hand if you know someone in your immediate family or circle of friends who suffers from some form of mental illness. I thought so, not surprised.

And raise your hand if you think that basic research on fruit flies has anything to do with understanding mental illness in humans. Yeah, I thought so I’m also not surprised. I can see I got my work cut out for me here.

As we heard from Dr. Insel this morning, psychiatric disorders like autism, depression and schizophrenia take a terrible toll on human suffering. We know much less about their treatment, and the understanding of their basic mechanisms than we do about diseases in the body.

Think about it. In 2013, the second decade of the millennium, if you’re concerned about a cancer diagnosis, and you go to your doctor, you get bone scans, biopsies and blood tests.

In 2013, if you’re concerned about a depression diagnosis, you go to your doctor and what do you get? A questionnaire. Part of the reason for this is that we have an oversimplified and increasingly outmoded view of the biological basis of psychiatric disorders. We tend to view them and the popular press aids and abets this view as chemical imbalances in the brain, as if the brain were some kind of bag of chemical soup full of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.

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