Abstract and Keywords
Neuroscience research has clearly demonstrated neurological correlates of psychological disorders. We believe that neuroscience, particularly neuroimaging, has great potential to increase our understanding of these disorders, leading to more effective treatments, prevention, and perhaps even cure. Nevertheless, the popular media is replete with misinformation and exaggerated claims. The present chapter is intended to give the reader the necessary knowledge to critically evaluate neuroimaging studies of psychological disorders. We provide an overview of all the major neuroimaging techniques, example studies relevant to psychological disorders (with a particular emphasis on depression), particular pitfalls and caveats associated with each technique, and the promise of each technique. We first cover the nuclear imaging techniques, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET). We then explore several magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, both structural and functional. Finally, we give an overview of the electrophysiological techniques, electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG). Each of these techniques has particular strengths, and particular weaknesses. At this point, none of these tools are diagnostic, but each one provides a unique window into psychological disorders. When applied in a methodologically rigorous and statistically rigorous manner, neuroimaging has great promise for achieving greater understanding of psychological disorders, and relieving the great burdens they cause.
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