Toward a Unified Classification System for Brain-Mind Disorders: Putting Calls for Integrated Clinical Neuroscience Into Action

Cogn Behav Neurol. 2023 Dec 1;36(4):199-201. doi: 10.1097/WNN.0000000000000353.


Dividing the brain-mind into the specialized fields of neurology and psychiatry has produced many granular advantages, but these silos have imposed barriers to comprehensively understanding and contextualizing the fundamentals governing mental life and its maladies. Scientific inquiry into these fundamentals cannot reach its full potential without interdigitating the boundaries of two specialties of the same organ for both scholarship and clinical practice. We propose that to truly integrate disorders of the brain and the mind for research and clinical care, we must carefully reexamine the classification of its disorders (nosology) as an instrument to develop a coherent pathological and psychological framework. We call on professional organizations from neurology, psychiatry, behavioral neurology, neuropsychiatry, neuropsychology, and other relevant subspecialties (eg, geriatric psychiatry) to convene a multidisciplinary task force to define the current classification principles of their subspecialties and work toward developing an integrated nosology. The effect of a shared classification system, which we acknowledge is a difficult proposition philosophically and politically, would have transformative potential across educational, clinical, scientific, programmatic, and sociocultural realms. If accomplished, this initiative would provide a definitive step toward reducing stigma (and promoting reimbursement parity) for the full spectrum of complex brain disorders (regardless of traditional neurologic vs psychiatric conceptualizations).

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain
  • Brain Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Neurology*
  • Neurosciences*