The advent of new neuroscience tools for the noninvasive study of the living brain pushed psychopathology beyond previously existing limits.Some of these tools, such as positron emission tomography, have been used within psychiatry for a while, whereas others such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, high resolution event-related potentials and magnetoencephalography are beginning to be used. Still others, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, may not only be used as a mapping and diagnostic tool but may eventually even have therapeutic uses. This review briefly describes the methods and some recent findings pertaining to basic issues in psychopathology. When the high spatial resolution of imaging techniques is combined with the high temporal resolution of electrophysiological and magnetic techniques, these methods provide enough detail for the study of brain structures related to the processing of high-level (meaningful) information and thereby have the potential to produce major contributions to psychopathology in the near future.
Psychiatric Hospital, University of Heidelberg, and (Kammer) Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tubingen, Germany.
Corresponding author: Manfred Spitzer, Sektion Experimentelle Psychopathologie, Psychiatrische Universitatsklinik, Voss-Str. 2, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany.
Current Opinion in Psychiatry 1996, 9:352-363.