Purpose of review: Neuroimaging has become a central technique of biological psychiatry and is uniquely suited to assess functional and structural brain changes in psychiatric patients in vivo. In this review, we highlight several recent developments that may enable the transition of psychiatric neuroimaging from laboratory to clinic.
Recent findings: We describe recent trends in refining imaging techniques for brain microstructure (diffusion imaging) and neurochemistry (magnetic resonance spectroscopy of neurotransmitters and metabolites) and their application to patients with mood disorders and individuals at risk, such as first-degree relatives. We also survey recent progress in imaging-guided deep brain stimulation (DBS), imaging-based (neurofeedback) therapies and studies looking at their convergent anatomical targets. These new interventional techniques, which aim to modulate brain circuits of emotion and motivation highlighted by functional imaging studies, have shown promising effects in several small studies.
Summary: The mapping of brain patterns associated with risk to develop mood disorders may pave the way for diagnostic/prognostic applications of neuroimaging. The neuromodulation techniques of DBS and neurofeedback, which target dysfunctional or compensatory circuits identified by functional imaging, may take neuroimaging into a new, therapeutic domain.