[Functional imaging in mental disorders]

Orv Hetil. 2004 Feb 8;145(6):277-89.
[Article in Hu]


Considerable progress has been achieved by functional brain imaging over the past 20 years in uncovering the biological basis of major psychiatric disorders and to more effectively target therapeutics. Radioligand techniques, especially the PET (positron emission tomography) method, are specific and sensitive tools for quantitative in vivo imaging of molecular pathways and molecular interactions within brain tissues. Since 1980s, advances in neuroimaging and neurophysiological techniques have provided tremendous merits for investigations into different psychiatric disorders. PET and SPECT (single photon emission computer tomography) neuroreceptor imaging, especially in schizophrenia has been an extremely fruitful area of research. Evidences from these studies suggest that schizophrenia affects various cortical and subcortical regions involved in cognitive, emotional, and motivational aspects of human behavior. PET and SPECT provide useful data in studying the fundamental neurobiology of mood disorders. Both techniques are playing a central role in studying patients with new methods and ligands for specific receptor subtypes, and are likely to increase the application of PET/SPECT in the development of new pharmacotherapies. Nuclear medicine plays an important role in studying patients with other psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, etc. Some forms of OCD seem to share a common genetic etiology with Tourette-syndrome (TS) and to be a facultative part of the TS phenotypic spectrum. In conclusion, PET and SPECT methods seem to be helpful in the diagnosis and management of patients with different psychiatric disorders and may provide a better understanding of clinical symptomatology or the relationship of these physiological parameters to the patient's prognosis. Additionally, radionuclide techniques may improve medical therapy by demonstrating individual biochemical abnormalities of altered brain functions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnostic imaging
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnostic imaging
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hysteria / diagnostic imaging
  • Mental Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Mental Disorders / pathology
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Mood Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnostic imaging
  • Schizophrenia / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed* / methods
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon* / methods
  • Tourette Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Trichotillomania / diagnostic imaging