In the past 25years, research on the human brain has been providing a clear path toward understanding the pathophysiology of psychiatric illnesses. The successes that have been accrued are matched by significant difficulties identifying and controlling a large number of potential confounding variables. By systematically and effectively accounting for unwanted variance in data from imaging and postmortem human brain studies, meaningful and reliable information regarding the pathophysiology of human brain disorders can be obtained. This perspective paper focuses on postmortem investigations to discuss some of the most challenging sources of variance, including diagnosis, comorbidity, substance abuse and pharmacological treatment, which confound investigations of the human brain.
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