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Adolesc Psychiatry. 2005;29:55-96.

BRAIN MYELINATION IN PREVALENT NEUROPSYCHIATRIC DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS: PRIMARY AND COMORBID ADDICTION.

Abstract

Current concepts of addiction focus on neuronal neurocircuitry and neurotransmitters and are largely based on animal model data, but the human brain is unique in its high myelin content and extended developmental (myelination) phase that continues until middle age. The biology of our exceptional myelination process and factors that influence it have been synthesized into a recently published myelin model of human brain evolution and normal development that cuts across the current symptom-based classification of neuropsychiatric disorders.The developmental perspective of the model suggests that dysregulations in the myelination process contribute to prevalent early-life neuropsychiatric disorders, as well as to addictions. These disorders share deficits in inhibitory control functions that likely contribute to their high rates of comorbidity with addiction and other impulsive behaviors. The model posits that substances such as alcohol and psychostimulants are toxic to the extremely vulnerable myelination process and contribute to the poor outcomes of primary and comorbid addictive disorders in susceptible individuals.By increasing the scientific focus on myelination, the model provides a rational biological framework for the development of novel, myelin-centered treatments that may have widespread efficacy across multiple disease states and could potentially be used in treating, delaying, or even preventing some of the most prevalent and devastating neuropsychiatric disorders.

PMID:
18668184
PMCID:
PMC2490819

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