A Review of Imaging in Psychiatry

J. Lagopoulos*, 1, 2, 3, P. Das1, 2, 3, O. Saether4, G.S. Malhi1, 2, 3
1 Discipline of Psychological Medicine, Northern Clinical School, University of Sydney, Australia
2 CADE Clinic, Department of Psychiatry, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, Australia
3 Advanced Research and Clinical Highfield Imaging (ARCHI), University of Sydney, Australia
4 Department of Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway

© 2009 Lagopoulos et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the CADE Clinic, Department of Psychiatry, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, Australia; E-mail:


The past decade has seen significant advances in imaging techniques used to measure structure and function in the human brain and many of these have direct relevance to psychiatry. Psychiatric disorders clearly pertain to brain function, however the underlying biology of these putative dysfunctions remains obscure. From a research perspective integrated use of novel imaging techniques in conjunction with clinical assessments now affords an opportunity to advance our understanding of the pathophysiology of psychiatric conditions by allowing the in vivo investigation of abnormalities of brain function as they relate to changes in cognition, mood and behaviour. Whilst most of these imaging techniques are still very much entrenched in the research domain, it is important that clinicians understand the benefits of these new technologies while also appreciating their limitations. These imaging techniques are constantly evolving and hold significant potential to one day provide clinical insights that inform diagnosis and management.

Keywords: Neuroimaging, mood disorders, schizophrenia, PTSD, psychiatry, PET, fMRI, MRS.