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Scientists begin to study how mental illness evolved

A researcher examines brain scans at Carnegie Mellon University. Photo: Keith Srakocic / AP

Scientists are beginning to utilize human genome databases to examine the biological and evolutionary roots of mental illnesses, according to Nature.

The big question: How did mental illness arise and develop — and what causes it to persist? Psychiatric disorders can involve hundreds or thousands of genes and mutations, writes Sara Reardon. Vast repositories of human genetic information are now allowing researchers to make inferences about the development and spread of mental illness throughout history.