Some Pathophysiological Aspects of Chronic Organic Brain Syndrome Illustrated by the Use of Brain-Imaging Techniques
Tom G. Bolwig
A review of brain-imaging techniques, with some of their advantages and limitations, is given, and perspectives of their use to understand pathophysiology related to brain damage are discussed. It is emphasized that although these technologies have yielded an enormous amount of information concerning brain structure and brain physiology, the application of them should hardly be used routinely, but rather as a research tool. Although imaging techniques are different in nature and applicability, they complement each other and do not represent redundancy.
The last few decades have witnessed an explosion of knowledge concerning how the brain works under normal and pathological conditions. During the 19th century, neurologists and psychiatrists were excited at the possibility of learning more about the brain, because at that time techniques for studying neuropathology were being developed using new stains such as the Nissl or Golgi stains. However, it soon became clear that examining neuronal structure alone would not suffice. Examination of brain structure, even at the cellular level, did not yield adequate power to resolve such difficult functions as thinking, feeling, and believing. Further, postmortem techniques have many inherent limitations, such as (a) artifactual effects of the death process, (b) the necessity to study predominantly elderly individuals, and (c) a