At the Amen Clinics we perform a brain imaging study called SPECT (single photon
emission computed tomography) that looks at blood flow and activity patterns in the brain. Over the last 20 years our clinics have performed over 70,000 SPECT studies on patients from 90 different countries. A healthy SPECT scan shows full, even symmetrical activity (see figure 1).
Jarred’s scan showed overall low activity, especially in the parietal and temporal lobes, areas of the brain that are low in Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to the SPECT scans we also take detailed clinical histories to learn the story of people’s lives and their main concerns and we do sophisticated cognitive testing. Jarred’s cognitive testing was in the low normal range, which given his educational record, indicated his brain function was on the decline.
In one of the more severe types of depression, we see severe overall low activity in
the brain. There are many potential causes of this depression type, including:
drug or alcohol abuse
environmental toxins, such as mold, paint or solvents
past chemotherapy or radiation
brain infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis
a lack of oxygen, such as a near drowning or sleep apnea
heavy metal poisoning, such as with lead, iron, or mercury