Non-invasive physiological measures of in vivo brain function,
derived from positron emission
tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance (fMRI), are now
standard tools in cognitive
neuroscience. These techniques provide a powerful context for addressing
regarding both the localization and mechanisms of higher brain functions.
A general overview of
the history and development of imaging techniques in relation to
cognitive science is that of Posner
& Raichle (1994). The conceptual background and methodological
approaches available for
neurobiological based psychiatric research, in conjunction with functional
imaging, provides the focus for the present review.
Major psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression,
represent disturbances at the
highest level of brain function. Providing a neurobiological account of
these conditions presents the
most formidable problem in clinical neuroscience. Questions posed by
on psychiatric disorders are necessarily embedded in theoretical
assumptions about how we think
that the brain works. From this, it follows that an important limiting
factor in any neurobiological
account of psychiatric disease is the stage of development and theoretical
conceptualization of brain function in general.