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The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) conducts clinical research studies on schizophrenia and related disorders. The NIMH seeks participants for studies at different locations across the United States. For further information on participating in a clinical research study, go to the: NIMH Web Site

What is interpersonal neurobiology?

Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) is a groundbreaking multidisciplinary field that seeks to understand the complex ways in which human relationships, neural function, and psychological well-being intersect and influence one another. The genesis of this interdisciplinary approach lies in the recognition that the human brain is fundamentally shaped by social connections and experiences, making it essential to study the biological and psychological components of human relationships in an integrated manner.

The Main Features

The core principles of IPNB can be traced to the late 20th century when pioneers like Dr. Daniel J. Siegel began exploring how social experiences might affect brain development and cognitive functions. This led to a series of research collaborations between experts in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and other areas, who share a common interest in understanding the impact of interpersonal relationships on neural processes.


One of the key tenets of IPNB is that the human brain is predominantly a social organ, shaped by relationships with family members, friends, and other significant social and cultural environments. It proposes that this complex web of social interactions influences the wiring and function of the brain, such that the neural connections that orchestrate an individual's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are constantly evolving in response to social experiences.

What Is It Used For?

Given its interdisciplinary nature, IPNB provides a unique perspective on human mental health by examining the role of social and relational processes in both the development of psychological problems and the promotion of mental wellbeing. For instance, studies within this framework have illuminated the importance of secure attachment in early childhood for the formation of a healthy brain and mind, and have demonstrated the potential for relational and reflective practices, such as mindfulness and compassionate communication, to foster resilience and enhance cognitive and emotional functioning.


Moreover, IPNB has substantial practical implications for professionals working in healthcare, education, and other fields, as it emphasizes the importance of fostering healthy human relationships for optimal neurological functioning. This notion has led to the development of therapeutic interventions, such as Siegel's "mindsight" approach, which focuses on cultivating insight, empathy, and integration in individuals and their relationships through a deeper understanding of their mental processes and the underlying neural mechanisms.


In sum, Interpersonal Neurobiology is an innovative and integrative approach to understanding human behavior and mental health, which acknowledges the centrality of social connections and experiences in shaping brain function and psychological well-being. By bridging the gaps between disciplines, IPNB offers valuable insights and tools that can be harnessed to foster holistic mental health and deepen our understanding of human relational dynamics.





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