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Delving into the bipolar brain


According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 6 million American adults have bipolar disorder, a psychiatric illness marked by episodes of mania and depression that typically begin in adolescence or early adulthood and can last from days to months. Ride the Tiger, a one-hour documentary focusing on the disease, recently premiered on PBS and featured Stanford's Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD.

Deisseroth is well-known for pioneering optogenetics, which uses light to control parts of the brain with very high precision. As noted in the piece, Deisseroth is considered a "new breed of neuroscientist" -- part engineer, part psychiatrist -- and he comments that it may take an engineering approach to unlock the mysteries of the brain and help lead to clinical treatments for mental illness. "There’s a strong sense we need ideas out of left field" in psychiatry, he said.

You can watch clips of the documentary, which also features former NIHM director Tom Insel, MD; former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy, and the late actress Patty Duke, here.

Previously: Examining link between bipolar disorder, early death and New York Times profiles Stanford's Karl Deisseroth and his work in optogenetics
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