This riveting and thought-provoking issue of Scientia showcases the work of scientists charting new frontiers in psychological and brain sciences. The brain is, by far, the most complex organ in the human body. It is responsible for our thoughts, what we do and what we don’t do, our external experience of the world and our internal sense of self. It should not, then, be unexpected that conditions affecting the brain can have deleteriously severe impacts on people’s lives. And at the same time, conditions affecting the brain are notoriously difficult to treat. In our first section, we meet the researchers working to ameliorate the negative impacts of adversity and trauma on mental health. From advances in understanding how childhood trauma impacts brain development to recognition of the complex and interacting factors associated with alcohol use disorders, this section highlights critical advancements being made in building brighter futures through scientific endeavour. Our second section showcases the work of researchers unravelling the complex and multifaceted causes of disease. Focussing on neurodevelopmental disorders (such as those on the autism spectrum) and psychiatric diseases (such as schizophrenia), this section illustrates the critical role that genes play in susceptibility for a wide range of disorders and diseases, and how this knowledge can be used to improve diagnosis and treatment. Our final section celebrates recent advances in understanding and treating clinical disorders. From improving the diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy to exploring the effects of music on patients with disorders of consciousness, this section highlights how scientific and technological advances are driving cutting-edge insights and informing treatment innovation.