Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 January 2011
Historically, the opportunity to examine the inner workings of the human body was limited to the study of cadavers. In the past 30 years, medical imaging technology has provided researchers with a new window into the living human body. Advances in medical imaging technology have, in fact, truly revolutionized nearly every area of medicine. These advances include both dramatic improvements in image resolution and the development of novel imaging techniques, from computed axial tomography (CT), to positron emission tomography (PET), to single photon emission tomography (SPECT), to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), including fMRI (functional MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), to magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), ultrasound, and magnetoencephalography (MEG) – all of which provide an unprecedented view, in exquisite detail, of anatomical structures and/or functions in the living human body.
One medical discipline that has been in the forefront of this revolution is neuropsychiatry (defined here as encompassing both psychiatry and behavioral neurology), where novel neuroimaging tools have been developed and applied to neuropsychiatric disorders in order to understand further the neuroanatomical and neurophysiological bases of mental illnesses and cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
This book reviews important new findings about the role of brain abnormalities in neuropsychiatric disorders based on this new imaging technology. In considering the progress in this area, it is clear that initially the quest was to identify and characterize focal brain abnormalities in an effort to delineate further various psychiatric and neuropsychiatric syndromes.