Measuring Brain Activity Can Help Predict Antidepressant Success Rates
> 8/2/2006 9:17:48 AM

In a clinical study published in this month's American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers at UCLA found that measuring brain activity before placing patients on an antidepressant regimen can help predict how well patients will respond to the medication. During the study, the patients in question first began a round of placebos while doctors used EEG scans to measure activity in their brains. In what seems like a common sense conclusion, they determined that patients' preconceptions about treatment, their previous medical histories, and the nature of doctor-patient relationships all contributed to drug reactions.

Specifically, the researchers measured prefrontal cordance, or changes in the chemistry of the prefrontal lobe, an area of the brain linked to the regulation of cognitive and social behavior as well as expressions of personality. From the Wikipedia entry:

The most typical neurologic term for functions carried out by the pre-frontal cortex area is Executive Function. Executive Function relates to abilities to differentiate between conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, better and best, same and different, future consequences of current activities, working toward a defined goal, prediction of outcomes, expectation based on actions, and social "control" (the ability to suppress urges that, if not suppressed, could lead to socially unacceptable or illegal outcomes).

The conclusions of this study are not new, as researchers encountered similar results in multiple previous experiments. Past studies also noted that brain imaging can help predict the effects of cognitive therapy. The larger conclusion seems to be that a patient's mindset upon entering therapy, be it personal or chemical, has quite a bit to do with determining the effectiveness of their respective treatment. Trial and error is an unavoidable aspect of all medicine, and maintaining an open and receptive mind regarding the potential of antidepressant medications can be crucial to developing a treatment program.


are these brain imaging tests available to the general public yet? if so, where? in New Jersey? thanks.
Posted by: marguerite 8/25/2006 12:14:34 PM

Are the test available in Seattle? After years and years of treatment resistant depression, I'm getting desperate.
Posted by: Brooke 10/13/2006 4:04:40 AM

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