Psychiatrist Explains The Most Important Lesson That We Can Learn From 83,000 Brain Scans
“After 22 years and 83,000 brain scans… the single most important lesson my colleagues and I have learned is that you can change people’s brains. And when you do, you literally change their life.”
Amen first talks about psychiatry and medical imaging, and SPECT imaging which is a tool that can help us understand more about imaging in general.
For the past 22 years, psychiatrists have built up a huge database of brain scans and the behaviors they are related to.
Undeterred by criticism, it is clear that Dr. Amen is passionate about his work and makes several interesting points. He adds:
“Did you know that psychiatrists are the only medical specialists that virtually never look at the organ they treat? Before imaging, I always felt like I was throwing darts in the dark with some of my patients and had hurt some of them, which horrified me! (…) Treatment needs to be tailored to individual brains, not clusters of symptoms.”
Daniel Gregory Amen scanned the brains of about five hundred convicted felons and found something quite interesting and possibly expected. People such as convicts who tend to do bad things will have troubled brains but can be rehabilitated.
In another study, Amen studied the brain of NFL players who presented poor brain function. After being put on the Brain Smart program, approximately 80% of the players showed an improvement in areas like memory and mood.
That proves that it’s indeed possible to reverse brain damage. The psychiatrist also tells the story of a nine-year-old boy named Andrew who used to have extremely violent tendencies. He’d lash out and draw disturbing pictures. Rather than using medication to treat the boy, Amen used brain scans to discover a cyst that was hiding in Andrew’s brain.
Once the cyst was removed, Andrew’s behavioral issues and violent tendencies disappeared. The boy was actually Amen’s nephew.
Check out the fascinating TED talk here: