These techniques (see T.a.ble.2) are used to either measure brain receptors and neurochemistry, or map functional brain activity via the indices of regional blood flow and glucose utilization. Each approach attempts to define trait and state abnormalities of psychiatric illnesses or the effect of psychotropic drug action.
Table 2 Summary of PET functional brain imaging approaches
Because of the technical complexities of brain imaging, it is important to bear in mind the following questions when judging experimental results. What assumptions are made about the behaviour of the radiotracer in vivo? Has the radiotracer been well validated for the physiological parameter measured? Is the spatial resolution of the PET camera sufficient for the regions measured? What is the test-test reliability for the PET measure? How have the raw PET images been treated in the data analysis? How have regions of interest been defined? What statistical techniques have been used, and are the statistical thresholds appropriate?
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