Update on the use of MR for assessment and diagnosis of psychiatric diseases

Nivedita Agarwal, John D. Port, Massimo Bazzocchi, Perry F. Renshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The lack of quantitative objective measures of psychiatric diseases such as anxiety and depression is one reason that the causative factors of psychiatric diseases remain obscure. The fact that human behavior is complex and cannot be easily tested in laboratories or reproduced in animal models further complicates our understanding of psychiatric diseases. During the past 3 decades, several magnetic resonance (MR)-based tools such as MR morphometry, diffusion-tensor imaging, functional MR imaging, and MR spectroscopy have yielded findings that provide tangible evidence of the neurobiologic manifestations of psychiatric diseases. In this article, we summarize major MR findings of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder as examples to illustrate the promise that MR techniques hold for not only revealing the neurobiological underpinnings of psychiatric disorders but also enhancing our understanding of healthy human behavior. However, many radiologists remain skeptical about the diagnostic value of MR in psychiatric disease. Many inconsistent, noncomparable reports in the literature contribute to this skepticism. The aims of this article are to (a) illustrate the most reported MR findings of major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder; (b) inform radiologists of the potential roles of MR imaging in psychiatric imaging research; and (c) discuss several confounding factors in the design and interpretation of MR imaging findings in psychiatry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-41
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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