Lecture 1 of 2: The Genetic Epidemiology of Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Disorders: Multiple Levels, Interactions and Causal Loops
I show how recent studies in the genetic epidemiology and molecular genetics of psychiatric and substance use disorders illustrate the complex causal pathways to mental illness. These include gene-environment interaction in the etiology of major depression (MD) and substance use and abuse, gene-social interactions in drug use, environment-environment interaction in the etiology of MD, and gene-environment covariation in the etiology of MD. I will illustrate the role of genetic factors on the comorbidity of psychiatric disorders using both twin and molecular methods, and describe complex developmental models for MD and alcohol use disorder. I will conclude with a classical example of top-down causation: the impact of human decision-making on the gene-to-phenotype pathway for psychiatric illness.
Corresponding blog post by Professor Roger Crisp.
Lecture 2 of 2: The Dappled Causal World of Psychiatric Disorders: The Link Between the Classification of Psychiatric Disorders and Their Causal Complexity
Since it is unlikely that we can identify a single causal level at which we can define our disorders etiologically, I explore the dappled causal world for psychiatric disorders, through an examination of psychiatric and other literature. I will suggest three primary and progressive goals for psychiatric research: to populate our causal space, to develop multilevel causal mechanisms, and to integrate the resulting neurobiological models with psychological explanations. I will consider how we might best conceptualise psychiatric disorders, and propose a new framework for how their classification might best move forward in time.
Corresponding blog post by Dr Rebecca Roache.