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Let's Change the Field

Frontiers in Psychiatry
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2010.00013
  • Psychiatry
  • Opinion Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine

Abstract May 2010 | Volume 1 | Article 13 | 1 OpiniOn ArticlE published: 28 May 2010 doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2010.00013PSYCHIATRY Let’s change the field Richard Ferber1,2* 1 Children’s Hospital Boston, Boston, MA, USA 2 Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA *Correspondence: [email protected] We need to change how we think about sleep function, mechanism, control, dysfunction, and treatment. That is the challenge that is put forward in this journal. The challenge applies to the fields of sleep research and clinical sleep medicine at all levels and disciplines. This journal is to be eclectic in scope and ambitious in goal, from basic to applied science, from microscope to macroscopic function, from nucleic acid to neuronal systems, from fetus to adult, and from primitive organisms to the highly evolved. The fields of sleep research and circadian biology have existed for many years; the field of modern clinical sleep medicine only 40 years or so. But how long did we know about sleep before we knew about REM and NREM (Aserinsky and Kleitman, 1953)? How long did we know that most of us slept at night before we knew about the supra- chiasmatic nucleus, the circadian clock, and their mode of control (Rusak and Zucker, 1979; Rosenwasser, 1988)? How long did we know about narcolepsy before we knew about the DQB1*0602 genetic locus and about the orexin/hypocretin neurotrans- mitter system (Mignot et al., 1997; Nishino et al., 2000; Taheri et al., 2002)? How much did we know about neuroanatomy and neu- rophysiology before we started to unravel the interplay of central systems controlling sleep? How long did we know about obstruc- tive sleep apnea before we recognized it as a common disorder with a simple effective treatment (Sullivan et al., 1981)? How long did we ascribe a psychodynamic dream interpretation to sleepwalking and sleep terrors before we learned to think of them as NREM disorders of arousal (Broughton, 1968)? How lo

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