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Still No Neuroimaging Markers for Major Depressive, Anxiety Disorders


Future neuroimaging studies of psychotherapy response may focus further on individual regions in the brain.

Radiology imaging has not yet found predictive markers of treatment responses for major depressive and anxiety disorders, according to a study published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

Researchers in Canada reviewed existing literature regarding candidate predictive neuroimaging markers of psychotherapy response and assessed their potential clinical utility. They found 40 eligible studies correlating pretreatment neuroimaging parameters with psychotherapy response in major depressive and anxiety disorders, gleaned from Embase, PsycINFO, and PubMed up to October 2014.

The results showed that the anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala, and anterior insula emerged as potential markers in major depressive disorder and some anxiety disorders but there was a large degree of variability. To date the findings have not been systematically validated in independent clinical cohorts and have not been shown capable of distinguishing between medication and psychotherapy responders. Also limited is the examination of how neuroimaging compares or might add to other prognostic clinical variables.

"Future studies of psychotherapy response may focus further on these individual regions as predictive markers," lead author Trisha Chakrabarty, MD, of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, said in a release. "Additionally, future biomarker studies may focus on pretreatment functional connectivity between these regions, as affective experience is modulated via reciprocal connections between brain areas such as the ACC and amygdala."

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