Brain scans help scientists catch glimpses of brain activity

BOSTON, MA — Doctors know that psychiatric disorders always involve activity in the brain. Now scientists are beginning to get some glimpses of that activity and how it changes with treatment, reports the August issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

One source of these insights is the use of such scanning techniques as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The findings to date—which are preliminary and often conflicting—usually involve two brain regions: the limbic system, where memory meets emotion, and the prefrontal cortex, which supports planning, judgment, and self-control. Studies have concentrated on three disorders:

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »