This overview of the potential future clinical applications of neuroimaging outlines possible approaches to integrating different modes of imaging technology into neuropsychiatric practice. These include different types of structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging and newer technological approaches (specifically near infra-red spectroscopy, fNIRS). The former entail large costs in terms of finance and manpower, as well as significant burdens to clinical subjects, but they can also provide detailed information about developmentally based brain processes that otherwise will not be available. The latter techniques are in turn less costly and more "user friendly," but provide information for only selected brain regions and structures, mainly limited to the cerebral cortex. Given that the identification of reliable neuroimaging markers via the use of conventional neuroimaging (especially in combination with other reliable neuropsychological and neurophysiological indicators) may soon be able to predict the course of neuropsychiatric disease states and/or its response to interventions, we propose that such advances can be more effectively translatable to the clinic via the use of more cost-effective techniques such as fNIRS. The use of new technologies in this way will enhance the translation of brain imaging advances into clinical use, and thus begin to fulfill the as yet unrealized promises of neuroimaging for making significant contributions to the evidence-based foundations of neuropsychiatry.
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