Can Brain Scans See Depression? – New York Times (free reg. req’d.)

They seem almost alive: snapshots of the living human brain.

Not long ago, scientists predicted that these images, produced by sophisticated brain-scanning techniques, would help cut through the mystery of mental illness, revealing clear brain abnormalities and allowing doctors to better diagnose and treat a wide variety of disorders. And nearly every week, it seems, imaging researchers announce another finding, a potential key to understanding depression, attention deficit disorder, anxiety.

Yet for a variety of reasons, the hopes and claims for brain imaging in psychiatry have far outpaced the science, experts say.

Researchers have scanned the brains of patients with illnesses including depression, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder, hoping to find patterns. But so far, scanning has not yielded reliable ways to diagnose or treat disorders. (From top: WDCN/University College London; courtesy of Bernard and Sally Shaywitz; courtesy of Dr. Mayberg.)
Readers
Forum: Mental Health and Treatment

Erik S. Lesser for The New York Times

Dr. Helen Mayberg of Emory found a baffling pattern of brain activity.

After almost 30 years, researchers have not developed any standardized tool for diagnosing or treating psychiatric disorders based on imaging studies.

Several promising lines of research are under way. But imaging technology has not lived up to the hopes invested in it in the 1990’s – labeled the “Decade of the Brain” by the American Psychiatric Association – when many scientists believed that brain scans would turn on the lights in what had been a locked black box.

Now, with imaging studies being published at a rate of more than 500 a year, and commercial imaging clinics opening in some parts of the country, some experts say that the technology has been oversold as a psychiatric tool. Other researchers remain optimistic, but they wonder what the data add up to, and whether it is time for the field to rethink its approach and its expectations.

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 1 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Oct 2005
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2005). Can Brain Scans See Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 27, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2005/10/20/can-brain-scans-see-depression/

 

Recent Comments
  • Piniewski MD: Well said. Regardless of our positions on this topic, the behavior :using Dr Google is unlikely to...
  • Starfate: I’m 61 and trying to determine the “best” way to tell my AS spouse that I’m leaving...
  • Theresa: Well I think that is a real shame. Not all therapists are so incongruent. In fact humanistic person-centred...
  • Daisy: I too am feeling the loss of a best friend. She told me that I had been treating her like s*it for the last...
  • Joyous: Gonoodle.com has short brain breaks for classroom teachers to use. I use them everyday- it really helps!
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 11059
Join Us Now!