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Event related potentials and fMRI in neuropsychopharmacology.

Event related potentials and fMRI in neuropsychopharmacology.

Oliver Pogarell, Christoph Mulert, Ulrich Hegerl
Clinical EEG and neuroscience

Event related potentials (ERP) are important clinical and research instruments in neuropsychiatry, particularly due to their strategic role for the investigation of brain function. These techniques are often underutilized in the evaluation of neurological and psychiatric disorders, but nevertheless they can be most useful and highly effective in the diagnostic workup of a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders as well as in monitoring the course of the disorders and the prediction of treatment responses. ERP are noninvasive instruments that directly reflect cortical neuronal activity. Cortical neuronal dysfunction plays a major role in variable neuropsychiatric disorders, and a change in cortical activity under medication might reflect treatment response and could be useful for monitoring drug effects. ERP are the only methods with a sufficiently high time resolution for the analysis of the dynamic patterns of neuronal brain activity, e.g., synchronization and desynchronization, oscillations, coherence, gamma band activity, latency of event related activity, etc., which are crucial for a deeper understanding of functional (neurophysiological) correlates of cognitive, emotional and behavioral disturbances in neuropsychiatric patients. Methodological advances have further improved and strengthened the position of ERP concerning research and clinical application. The usefulness and applicability of ERP in determining and monitoring clinico-pharmacological effects will be summarized mainly by focussing on the auditory evoked P300 and the N1/P2 component of auditory evoked potentials. Owing to important recent developments in the field of brain functional diagnostics the combination of neurophysiological techniques and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) will be included.

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