Aims — The present review is aimed to evaluate the recent contribution of brain imaging techniques to the definition of neuroanatomofunctional models of panic disorder (PD). Methods — Structural and functional brain imaging studies of PD, conducted from January 1993 to October 2003 and selected through a comprehensive Medline search (key-words: panic disorder, emotions, brain imaging, EEG, Event-Related Potentials, MRI, fMRI, PET, SPECT, TC) were included in the review. The Medline search has been complemented by bibliographic cross-referencing. Results — The majority of the reviewed studies suggests that a dysfunction of a neural circuit encompassing prefrontal and temporo-Iimbic cortices is present in PD. A right hemisphere preferential involvement in PD has been shown by several studies. Conclusions — Reviewed neuroimaging studies suggest a dysfunction of frontal and temporo-Iimbic circuitries in PD. However, those studies cannot be considered conclusive because of several methodological limitations. Longitudinal and multi-modal studies involving larger patient samples, possibly integrated with population-based and genetic studies, would provide more insight into pathophysiological mechanisms of PD.
Declaration of Interest: Authors declare that none of them had any known real, potential, or apparent conflict of interest and that there was no business or personal interest that might be relevant to the topic of this article.