Predictive Neuroimaging Markers of Psychotherapy Response: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Introduction

Predictive neuroimaging markers of treatment response are increasingly sought in order to inform the treatment of major depressive and anxiety disorders. We review the existing literature regarding candidate predictive neuroimaging markers of psychotherapy response and assess their potential clinical utility.

Methods

We searched Embase, PsycINFO, and PubMed up to October 2014 for studies correlating pretreatment neuroimaging parameters with psychotherapy response in major depressive and anxiety disorders. Our search yielded 40 eligible studies.

Results

The anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala, and anterior insula emerged as potential markers in major depressive disorder and some anxiety disorders. Results across studies displayed a large degree of variability, however, and to date the findings have not been systematically validated in independent clinical cohorts and have not been shown capable of distinguishing between medication and psychotherapy responders. Also limited is the examination of how neuroimaging compares or might add to other prognostic clinical variables.

Conclusion

While the extant data suggest avenues of further investigation, we are still far from being able to use these markers clinically. Future studies need to focus on longitudinal testing of potential markers, determining their prescriptive value and examining how they might be integrated with clinical factors.

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