Pharmacological fMRI: A new tool for drug development in humans
Tracey I., Wise RG.
Until now, our understanding of human brain pharmacology has depended on indirect assessments or animal models. The advent of pharmacological functional magnetic resonance imaging (phMRI) has enabled researchers to focus directly on human pharmacology and brain function. Functional MRI, with its increased spatial and temporal resolution, has a further advantage over other neuroimaging methods in that being totally noninvasive, it allows serial, longitudinal studies to be performed on the same subject. This opens the door to a new era of phMRI, as the effects of drugs can be readily monitored in one subject (control or patient) overtime. In addition, sophisticated paradigms can be developed that can isolate specific brain regions of activation. These regions can then be subsequently targeted and challenged with appropriate drugs. This allows for a "battery" of paradigms aimed at determining a drug's mechanism and site of action, which would be valuable for drug development and discovery.