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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2002 Feb;36(1):31-43.

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy and its applications in psychiatry.

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Mood Disorders Unit, The Villa, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick NSW 2031, Sydney, Australia.



This paper briefly describes neuroimaging using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and provides a systematic review of its application to psychiatric disorders.


A literature review (Index Medicus/Medline) was carried out, as well as a review of other relevant papers and data known to the authors.


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a complex and sophisticated neuroimaging technique that allows reliable and reproducible quantification of brain neurochemistry provided its limitations are respected. In some branches of medicine it is already used clinically, for instance, to diagnose tumours and in psychiatry its applications are gradually extending beyond research. Neurochemical changes have been found in a variety of brain regions in dementia, schizophrenia and affective disorders and promising discoveries have also been made in anxiety disorders.


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a non-invasive investigative technique that has provided useful insights into the biochemical basis of many neuropsychiatric disorders. It allows direct measurement, in vivo, of medication levels within the brain and has made it possible to track the neurochemical changes that occur as a consequence of disease and ageing or in response to treatment. It is an extremely useful advance in neuroimaging technology and one that will undoubtedly have many clinical uses in the near future.

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