Psychoradiology: The frontier of neuroimaging in psychiatry

Su Lui, Xiaohong Joe Zhou, John A. Sweeney, Qiyong Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Unlike neurologic conditions, such as brain tumors, dementia, and stroke, the neural mechanisms for all psychiatric disorders remain unclear. A large body of research obtained with structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography/single photon emission computed tomography, and optical imaging has demonstrated regional and illness-specific brain changes at the onset of psychiatric disorders and in individuals at risk for such disorders. Many studies have shown that psychiatric medications induce specific measurable changes in brain anatomy and function that are related to clinical outcomes. As a result, a new field of radiology, termed psychoradiology, seems primed to play a major clinical role in guiding diagnostic and treatment planning decisions in patients with psychiatric disorders. This article will present the state of the art in this area, as well as perspectives regarding preparations in the field of radiology for its evolution. Furthermore, this article will (a) give an overview of the imaging and analysis methods for psychoradiology; (b) review the most robust and important radiologic findings and their potential clinical value from studies of major psychiatric disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia; and (c) describe the main challenges and future directions in this field. An ongoing and iterative process of developing biologically based nomenclatures with which to delineate psychiatric disorders and translational research to predict and track response to different therapeutic drugs is laying the foundation for a shift in diagnostic practice in psychiatry from a psychologic symptom-based approach to an imaging-based approach over the next generation. This shift will require considerable innovations for the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of brain images, all of which will undoubtedly require the active involvement of radiologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-372
Number of pages16
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Psychoradiology: The frontier of neuroimaging in psychiatry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this