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Review of neuroimaging studies of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders from the past 10 years.

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Institute for Quality, Research and Training, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson, New Brunswick 08901, USA.



To review recent neuroimaging studies of serious emotional disorders in youth and identify problems and promise of neuroimaging in clinical practice.


Published reports from refereed journals are briefly described, critiqued, and synthesized into a summary of the findings to date.


Childhood-onset schizophrenia shows progressive ventricular enlargement, reduction in total brain and thalamus volume, changes in temporal lobe structures, and reductions in frontal metabolism. Autistic disorder is associated with cerebellar changes, greater total brain and lateral ventricle volume, and asymmetry. The prefrontal cortex and the basal ganglia are consistently reported as abnormal in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Patients with anorexia nervosa show enlarged CSF spaces and reductions in gray and white matter that are only partially reversible with weight recovery.


Results from neuroimaging studies of childhood-onset psychiatric disorders suggest consistency in the structures found to be abnormal, but inconsistencies in the nature of these abnormalities. Although neuroimaging technology holds great promise for neurodevelopmental research, it is not yet a diagnostic instrument.

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