Computational Psychiatry Series

  • Quentin J.M. Huys
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Quentin J.M. Huys, M.D., Ph.D., University College London, Division of Psychiatry and Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square, London WC1B 5EH, United Kingdom.
    Affiliations
    Division of Psychiatry and Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    Camden and Islington National Health Service Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom
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      Illnesses will naturally be shaped by the core functions of the organs from which they arise. Conceived broadly, computation and adaptive changes or “learning” are the core and most distinguishing features of the brain. Computational, adaptive change and learning principles are therefore likely to play a mechanistic role in shaping and forming illnesses arising from the brain. Computation and learning interact: the computations our brains can perform today are a function of the learning they have undergone and of the computations they have performed in the past, whereas the adaptive change a brain can undergo depends on its computational abilities. These core features of the brain hence suggest that illnesses can arise when the demands for learning and computation outstrip what the brain can deliver, just like symptoms of heart failure arise when the pumping requirements outstrip what the heart can deliver. Properly comprehending and treating such illnesses in a mechanistic and precise manner will likely require that mental health researchers and clinicians pay due respect to their as-yet all too poorly understood learning and computational nature (
      • Stephan K.E.
      • Binder E.B.
      • Breakspear M.
      • Dayan P.
      • Johnstone E.C.
      • Meyer-Lindenberg A.
      • et al.
      Charting the landscape of priority problems in psychiatry, part 2: Pathogenesis and aetiology.
      ).
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