Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 November 2014
Techniques such as positron emission tomography and single photon emission computed tomography allow for the imaging of neurotransmitter receptors and transporters in the brain. These tools have been used to investigate serotonergic, dopaminergic, and opioidergic function in healthy subjects as well as in patients with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders. Pharmacologic challenges, such as amphetamine challenge, and physiologic stressors, such as pain challenge, have been used to further examine the function of these neurotransmitter systems. Neuroimaging of patient populations before and after medication treatment may be useful to understand changes in neurotransmission that accompany disease remission. As new radiotracers with higher selectivity for the various receptors and transporters are developed, imaging techniques may provide new insights into the pathophysiolagy of mood disorders, leading to improved diagnosis and treatment.