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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2008 Feb;117(2):100-17. Epub 2007 Nov 19.

Making sense of neuroimaging in psychiatry.

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  • 1CADE Clinic, Department of Psychiatry, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, Australia.



Neuroimaging of psychiatric disorders has increased exponentially in the last decade; however, much of the uptake thus far has been in the realm of research. We anticipate that clinical use of neuroimaging modalities in psychiatry will increase dramatically in the near future and suggest that clinicians need to be aware of the potential applications.


The authors conducted an extensive MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMED and PsychInfo search of the published literature (1965-2007) using a variety of search terms to find relevant articles. Bibliographies of retrieved papers were further scrutinised for publications of interest, as were indices of books. Articles that reported clinically significant findings and research reports conducted using pertinent neuroimaging modalities were reviewed in detail.


The review suggests that exciting neuroimaging advances are being made that have relevance to psychiatry. Novel neuroimaging applications with potential clinical utility are rapidly emerging and the accessibility and use of these technologies will increase in coming years. Clinically meaningful findings have begun to emerge in mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and dementia. Coupling multimodal imaging with genetics and pharmacotherapeutic studies will further assist in understanding the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders.


It is important that clinicians understand the benefits and limitations of modern neuroimaging techniques and are also suitably equipped to appraise future developments. The use of neuroimaging in evaluating psychopathology is likely to impact upon the future nosology of psychiatric disorders, and assist in diagnosis and clinical management. The integrated use of neuroimaging in conjunction with clinical assessments promises to improve clinical care and markedly alter psychiatric practice.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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