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Cognitive therapy or medication? Brain scans may help personalize treatments

Pre­dict­ing How Patients Respond to Ther­a­py (press release):

A new study led by MIT neu­ro­sci­en­tists has found that brain scans of patients with social anx­i­ety dis­or­der can help pre­dict whether they will ben­e­fit from cog­ni­tive behav­ioral therapy…Social anx­i­ety is usu­al­ly treat­ed with either cog­ni­tive behav­ioral ther­a­py or med­ica­tions. How­ev­er, it is cur­rent­ly impos­si­ble to pre­dict which treat­ment will work best for a par­tic­u­lar patient. The team of researchers from MIT, Boston Uni­ver­si­ty (BU) and Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal (MGH) found that the effec­tive­ness of ther­a­py could be pre­dict­ed by mea­sur­ing patients’ brain activ­i­ty as they looked at pho­tos of faces, before the ther­a­py ses­sions began.. “Our vision is that some of these mea­sures might direct indi­vid­u­als to treat­ments that are more like­ly to work for them”…  “It moves the field for­ward, and brings psy­chol­o­gy into more of a rig­or­ous sci­ence, using neu­ro­science to dis­tin­guish between clin­i­cal cas­es that at first appear homo­ge­neous.”

Study: Pre­dict­ing Treat­ment Response in Social Anx­i­ety Dis­or­der From Func­tion­al Mag­net­ic Res­o­nance Imag­ing (Archives of Gen­er­al Psy­chi­a­try). From the abstract:

  • Results: Pre­treat­ment respons­es sig­nif­i­cant­ly pre­dict­ed sub­se­quent treat­ment out­come of patients selec­tive­ly for social stim­uli and par­tic­u­lar­ly in regions of high­er-order visu­al cor­tex. Com­bin­ing the brain mea­sures with infor­ma­tion on clin­i­cal sever­i­ty account­ed for more than 40% of the vari­ance in treat­ment response and sub­stan­tial­ly exceed­ed pre­dic­tions based on clin­i­cal mea­sures at base­line. Pre­dic­tion suc­cess was unaf­fect­ed by test­ing for poten­tial con­found­ing fac­tors such as depres­sion sever­i­ty at base­line.
  • Con­clu­sions: The results sug­gest that brain imag­ing can pro­vide bio­mark­ers that sub­stan­tial­ly improve pre­dic­tions for the suc­cess of cog­ni­tive behav­ioral inter­ven­tions and more gen­er­al­ly sug­gest that such bio­mark­ers may offer evi­dence-based, per­son­al­ized med­i­cine approach­es for opti­mal­ly select­ing among treat­ment options for a patient.

To Learn More about the Future of Per­son­al­ized Med­i­cine & the Brain:

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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