The MIT Technology Review discusses Robert Desimone, the current state of neuroscience, and the future of the field.
Robert Desimone, head of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, thinks breakthroughs in understanding mental illness are just around the corner.
When Robert Desimone was 18, he spent a month at a state mental hospital. He was there not as a patient but as a college freshman, on January break from Macalester College, who had been given the opportunity to live alongside and observe patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. During that month, he got to know a patient in her 30s who suffered from schizophrenia. A promising college student before her diagnosis, she had not responded to any of the treatments.
“What was so frustrating was that here was an intelligent person who I could have imagined as a fellow student in college, and yet here she was stuck in this mental hospital because she had these delusional ideas,” Desimone recalls. “That really opened my eyes to how terrible some of the serious mental illnesses were, and how frustrating it was for the physicians trying to treat them.”