Perspective ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 22 October 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00293

Neuroimaging in mental health care: voices in translation

  • National Core for Neuroethics, Department of Neurology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Images of brain function, popularly called “neuroimages,” have become a mainstay of contemporary communication about neuroscience and mental health. Paralleling media coverage of neuroimaging research and the high visibility of clinics selling scans is pressure from sponsors to move basic research about brain function along the translational pathway. Indeed, neuroimaging may offer benefits to mental health care: early or tailored intervention, opportunities for education and planning, and access to resources afforded by objectification of disorder. However, risks of premature technology transfer, such as misinterpretation, misrepresentation, and increased stigmatization, could compromise patient care. The insights of stakeholder groups about neuroimaging for mental health care are a largely untapped resource of information and guidance for translational efforts. We argue that the insights of key stakeholders—including researchers, healthcare providers, patients, and families—have an essential role to play upstream in professional, critical, and ethical discourse surrounding neuroimaging in mental health. Here we integrate previously orthogonal lines of inquiry involving stakeholder research to describe the translational landscape as well as challenges on its horizon.

Keywords: neuroethics, bioethics, qualitative research, neuroimaging, psychiatry

Citation: Borgelt EL, Buchman DZ and Illes J (2012) Neuroimaging in mental health care: voices in translation. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 6:293. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00293

Received: 12 July 2012; Accepted: 03 October 2012;
Published online: 22 October 2012.

Edited by:

Srikantan S. Nagarajan, University of California, San Francisco, USA

Reviewed by:

Tamer Demiralp, Istanbul University, Turkey
Chien-Te Wu, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taiwan

Copyright © 2012 Borgelt, Buchman and Illes. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Judy Illes, National Core for Neuroethics, Department of Neurology, University of British Columbia, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Koerner Pavilion, Room S-124, Vancouver, BC V6T 2B5, Canada. e-mail:

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