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J Hist Neurosci. 2012;21(4):366-92. doi: 10.1080/0964704X.2011.623917.

Monoamine theories of depression: historical impact on biomedical research.

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Centre for Gender Studies, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.


Monoamine theories associate depression with reduced brain monoamine levels. These theories achieved broad popularity in the mid-1960s. The present article reviews the historical development of monoamine theories and their subsequent impact on biomedical research. Alleged divisions between West European and US researchers over competing versions of the theories are investigated using bibliometrics. Subsequently, the application of monoamine theories in the NIMH Collaborative Program on the Psychobiology of Depression is covered. The article argues that the impact of monoamine theories is best explained by the ability of researchers, governmental agencies, and pharmaceutical companies to invoke theories that advance various projects and agendas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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