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Vol. 83, No. 3, 2014
Issue release date: May 2014
Psychother Psychosom 2014;83:142-147
(DOI:10.1159/000358841)

Review of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Neuroimaging Studies

Abbass A.A. · Nowoweiski S.J. · Bernier D. · Tarzwell R. · Beutel M.E.
aDepartment of Psychiatry and bCentre for Emotions and Health, Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S., and cFaculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada; dMelbourne Centre for ISTDP, Melbourne, Vic., Australia; eClinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Medicine, Mainz, Germany

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Abstract

The clinical efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy (PDT) has undergone extensive study and review. Recently, researchers have studied the effects of this treatment on brain metabolic or synaptic activity, but the collective findings have never been reviewed. The objective of this review was to describe the findings of all neuroimaging studies of any form of PDT treatment. An extensive literature search through databases along with surveying of research groups were undertaken to acquire all available published studies. Eleven series were included in the final sample, consisting of 2 randomized controlled trials, 5 controlled trials and 4 case series, altogether involving 210 people: 94 healthy controls and 116 people with mood disorders, panic disorder, somatoform disorders and borderline personality disorder. A variety of neuroimaging techniques were used to examine regional metabolic activity and synaptic neurotransmission before and after treatment. The common finding was normalization of synaptic or metabolic activity in limbic, midbrain and prefrontal regions, occurring in association with improved clinical outcomes. PDT has demonstrable effects on brain function in diverse clinical populations as evidenced by a modest group of mixed neuroimaging studies. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel



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