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Bipolar, despite significant differences in age and gender, a family of five received SPECT brain scans and had the same findings – SPECT may be an important biomarker for this disease.

If these potential biomarkers of asymmetrical thalamus and diffusely increased cortical perfusion, or “hotspots,” hold up in future studies, the treatment of bipolar disorder could be revolutionized.”

Henderson, M.D., Ph.D., was the first to publish a seminal paper on bipolar disorder. They looked at a family of five from Canada, each of whom had bipolar disorder. Each participant had at least one perfusion SPECT brain scan, which shows how the brain works.

Surprisingly, despite age and gender differences, the parents and three children had very similar SPECT brain scan results. The researchers discovered that all members of this family had increased and asymmetrical thalamic activity. They also discovered that the cortex was significantly overactive in comparison to scans of psychiatrically normal patients.

These findings point to potential “biomarkers” or consistent SPECT brain scan findings that could aid in the early detection of bipolar disorder before the patient suffers the financial, social, academic, and professional losses that so frequently accompany this disorder. “This family is a rare clinical pearl,” Dr. Henderson said. Because all five subjects were members of the same nuclear family, we were able to eliminate many social, socioeconomic, and developmental variables.”

Bipolar Disorder Treatment - HelpGuide.org

Drs. McLean, Cohen, Henderson, and Pavel (now deceased) are members of the International Society of Applied Neuroimaging, an international consortium of neuroimaging experts and clinicians (ISAN). ISAN was founded to promote functional neuroimaging education, research psychiatric and medical applications, and assist clinicians in incorporating functional neuroimaging into their clinical practices. To educate practicing psychiatrists about functional neuro-imaging, the group has also published papers in Frontiers in Psychiatry, Interventional Medicine, and Clinical Imaging. The group has hundreds of years of combined experience using functional neuro-imaging, particularly SPECT imaging, to improve patient diagnosis and treatment, and they have read over 280,000 SPECT scans.

“Given the major advances in SPECT functional neuroimaging for both neurological and psychiatric conditions, the positions assumed by Neurology and Psychiatry are no longer tenable,” said Dr. Henderson, president of Neuro-Luminance Inc.

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