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Medical Imaging of Adult Neuropsychiatric Disorders: Applications for MRI and PET

Vicki L. Sanders, MSRS, RRA RT(R)(CV)

Assistant Professor, Department of Radiologic Sciences, Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas.
Address correspondence to Vicki L. Sanders MSRS RRA, RT(R)(CV), Assistant Professor, Department of Radiologic Sciences, Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas. Bridwell Hall Room #230, 3410 Taft Blvd, Wichita Falls, TX 76301. E-mail: Vicki.sanders@mwsu.edu.

Disclosures: Ms Sanders reports having no significant financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.


Neuroimaging studies using advancements in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) applications and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging have begun to provide neurobiologic correlation to neuropsychiatric disorders. Although the use of imaging is limited as a diagnostic or screening tool for neuropsychiatric disorders, technologists in research facilities may be directly involved in the imaging of patients with these disorders. Structural MRI techniques of diffusion weighted imaging, diffusion tensor imaging, voxel-based morphometry, fractional anisotropy, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy can be used to evaluate the neural structure, volume, and metabolite concentrations. Functional imaging techniques, such as functional MRI and PET imaging, are used to evaluate metabolic changes in the brain. With continued evaluation of neuropsychiatric disorders, imaging has the potential of providing early markers for disease for improved diagnosis and treatment. This article will review the medical imaging methods used in evaluation of neuropsychiatric disorders, explain the definitions and symptoms of selected neuropsychiatric disorders, discuss the anatomy and function of the brain structures thought to be involved in neuropsychiatric disorders, and illustrate the most reported image findings of major neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders.

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