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Clinical neuroscience is a branch of neuroscience that focuses on the fundamental mechanisms that underlie diseases and disorders of the brain and central nervous system. It seeks to develop new ways of diagnosing such disorders and ultimately on developing novel treatments.
Clinical neuroscientists — including psychiatrists, neurologists and other medical specialists — use basic research findings to develop diagnostic methods and ways to prevent and treat neurological disorders that affect millions of people. Such disorders include addiction, Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, brain tumors, depression, Down Syndrome, dyslexia, epilepsy, Huntington's Disease, multiple sclerosis, neurological AIDS, neurological trauma, pain, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, sleep disorders, stroke, Tourette Syndrome, among many others.
While neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry are the main medical specialties constituting clinical neuroscience, other medical specialties such as neuroradiology, neuropathology, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, anesthesiology, and rehabilitation medicine are also considered by some as clinical neuroscience disciplines.
The One Mind for Research Forum held in Boston, Massachusetts on May 23-25, 2011 - attended by Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, convened by former congressman Patrick J. Kennedy and chaired by Harvard Provost Steven Hyman - produced the blueprint document A Ten-Year Plan for Neuroscience: From Molecules to Brain Health.
In this document contributed by leading neuroscience practitioners in the United States, 17 key areas of opportunities are listed under the section Clinical Neuroscience. These include:
1. Rethinking curricula to break down intellectual silos
2. Training translational neuroscientists and clinical investigators
3. Investigating biomarkers
4. Improving psychiatric diagnosis
5. Developing a “Framingham Study of Brain Disorders” (i.e., longitudinal cohort for central nervous system disease)
6. Identifying developmental risk factors and producing effective interventions
7. Discovering new treatments for pain, including neuropathic pain
8. Treating disorders of neural signaling and pathological synchrony
11. Developing new treatments for depression
12. Treating addictive disorders
13. Improving treatment of schizophrenia
14. Preventing and treating cerebrovascular disease
15. Achieving personalized medicine
16. Understanding shared mechanisms of neurodegeneration
17. Advancing anesthesia.
In particular, under point #1, it is advocated that better integrated and scientifically driven curricula for practitioners of clinical neuroscience be developed, and that such curricula be shared among neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists.
Given the various ethical, legal and societal implications for healthcare practitioners arising from advances in neuroscience, the University of Pennsylvania has inaugurated the Penn Conference on Clinical Neuroscience and Society in July 2011.