Therapy Changes the Brain


Therapy Changes the Brain

During the past several decades, it has become clear that all mental processes derive from mechanisms of the brain.  This means that any change in our psychological processes is reflected by changes in the functions or structures of the brain.

Functional neuroimaging, including single photon emission CT (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), and functional MRI, has made it possible to study changes at the brain systems level (by measuring changes in brain blood flow or metabolisms) and, increasingly, also on the molecular level using SPECT and PET in the living human brain.

…Studies suggest that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectic behavior therapy (DBT), psychodynamic psychotherapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy alter brain function in patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, posttraumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder (BPD).

The majority of these studies have reported similar brain changes after psychotherapy and medication.  However, some recent studies have also shown clear differences among these treatment modalities.

In the study by Goldapple and colleagues, treatment response for CBT (therapy) in patients with MDD was associated with increases in metabolism in the hippocampus and dorsal cingulate and decreases in the dorsal, ventral, and medial frontal cortex.

This pattern was clearly distinct from the pattern caused by paroxetine (medication), which included increases in metabolism in the prefrontal areas and decreases in the hippocampus and subgenual cingulate.

Although still preliminary, the studies using neuroimaging for measuring change caused by psychotherapy will in the long run lead to a more refined understanding of how different psychotherapies work. This may lead to a development in which specific modes of psychotherapy can be designed to target specific brain circuits.

Quoted from Source: – how psychotherapy changes brain
Featured Image Source: – Neuroimaging

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