According to National Institutes of Mental Health director Thomas Insel, brain imaging is the next major advance in clinical psychiatry. Dr. Daniel Amen has been using brain imaging in clinical practice for the past 14 years. The work has given him many insights on better ways to improve patient care and prevent illnesses that are so expensive to our society. In this keynote from Accelerating Change 2005, Dr. Amen shares the lessons he has learned from imaging, the roadblocks to further progress, and ways to use this technology to benefit society in general.
Dr. Amen compares a psychiatrist who treats a patient without looking at a brain scan to a mechanic who diagnoses your car without opening the hood. Brain scans consisting of measurements of blood flow and activity level can reveal evidence of drug abuse, exposure to environmental toxins or brain injuries. These scans, combined with extensive personal histories, can reveal many possible issues that might affect the success of psychiatric treatment. Dr, Amen believes that most psychiatric illnesses are complex and multi-faceted and that brain scans can help determine the correct treatment for each particular illness; he finds it incredible that psychiatrists are the only medical specialists that never look at the organ they treat.
Dr. Amen discusses the SPECT brain imaging procedure and some of the benefits of using brain scans in patient treatment, not only for psychiatric disorders but also for early detection of problems like Alzheimer's disease.
Daniel G. Amen, M.D. is a child and adult psychiatrist, brain imaging specialist, and the medical director of Amen Clinics, Inc. He has pioneered the use of brain imaging in clinical psychiatric practice, and his clinics have the world's largest database of functional brain scans for neuropsychiatry. Dr. Amen did his general psychiatric training at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and his child and adolescent psychiatry training at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. He has won writing and research awards from the American Psychiatric Association, the U.S. Army, and the Baltimore-D.C. Institute for Psychoanalysis.
This free podcast is from our Accelerating Change series.