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Annual Research Review: Current limitations and future directions in MRI studies of child‐ and adult‐onset developmental psychopathologies

Horga, Guillermo ; Kaur, Tejal ; Peterson, Bradley S.

Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, June 2014, Vol.55(6), pp.659-680 [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    Annual Research Review: Current limitations and future directions in MRI studies of child‐ and adult‐onset developmental psychopathologies
  • Autor: Horga, Guillermo ; Kaur, Tejal ; Peterson, Bradley S.
  • Assuntos: Brain Imaging ; Magnetic Resonance Imaging ; Study Design ; Psychopathology ; Development
  • É parte de: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, June 2014, Vol.55(6), pp.659-680
  • Descrição: BACKGROUND: The widespread use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in the study of child- and adult-onset developmental psychopathologies has generated many investigations that have measured brain structure and function in vivo throughout development, often generating great excitement over our ability to visualize the living, developing brain using the attractive, even seductive images that these studies produce. Often lost in this excitement is the recognition that brain imaging generally, and MRI in particular, is simply a technology, one that does not fundamentally differ from any other technology, be it a blood test, a genotyping assay, a biochemical assay, or behavioral test. No technology alone can generate valid scientific findings. Rather, it is only technology coupled with a strong experimental design that can generate valid and reproducible findings that lead to new insights into the mechanisms of disease and therapeutic response.METHODS: In this review we discuss selected studies to illustrate the most common and important limitations of MRI study designs as most commonly implemented thus far, as well as the misunderstanding that the interpretations of findings from those studies can create for our theories of developmental psychopathologies.RESULTS: Common limitations of MRI study designs are in large part responsible thus far for the generally poor reproducibility of findings across studies, poor generalizability to the larger population, failure to identify developmental trajectories, inability to distinguish causes from effects of illness, and poor ability to infer causal mechanisms in most MRI studies of developmental psychopathologies. For each of these limitations in study design and the difficulties they entail for the interpretation of findings, we discuss various approaches that numerous laboratories are now taking to address those difficulties, which have in common the yoking of brain imaging technologies to studies with inherently stronger designs that permit more valid and more powerful causal inferences. Those study designs include epidemiological, longitudinal, high-risk, clinical trials, and multimodal imaging studies.CONCLUSIONS: We highlight several studies that have yoked brain imaging technologies to these stronger designs to illustrate how doing so can aid our understanding of disease mechanisms and in the foreseeable future can improve clinical diagnosis, prevention, and treatment planning for developmental psychopathologies.

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