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Edited by T Sharma, X Chitnis (Pp 74, £12.50). Remedica Publishing, London, 2000. ISBN 1901346080
This is a succinct overview of brain imaging studies in schizophrenia and is well illustrated with scan photographs. The first two chapters cover the techniques of brain imaging and include several tables summarising information. The structural imaging chapter describes the techniques of computed tomography and MRI, and introduces the novel methods of diffusion weighted imaging and magnetisation transfer imaging. Complex topics such as the underlying principals of MRI are tackled in a fairly accessible manner. The functional brain imaging chapter covers PET, SPECT, fMRI, and MRS. The next two chapters cover the results of structural and functional imaging studies. These chapters are thoughtfully subdivided, and papers up to and including the year 2000 are cited. The brevity of the volume of course restricts the range of studies discussed, but generally the selection is good. Space also prevents areas of conflict from being fully resolved, for example into differing scan methodologies, data analysis protocols, and clinical populations. The penultimate chapter is titled “Genetics and brain imaging,” and describes imaging studies in twin pairs and members of multiply affected families. It includes discussion of the subtle abnormalities identified in presumed carriers. Finally there is a brief concluding chapter examining the current and future applications of the various imaging techniques in the study of schizophrenia. Overall, the results presented confirm that the complexity and heterogeneity of schizophrenia makes a simple uniform underlying pathology seem unlikely. Imaging studies, with their unique ability to examine the brains of living patients, have an important role in developing our increasingly sophisticated understanding of the disorder. I would recommend this well written monograph both to academics and to clinicians wishing to keep up with this fascinating and fast evolving area.
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