Brain SPECT Made Ridiculously Simple: Part 3

Brain SPECT Made Simple

Brain SPECT imaging has dramatically influenced the way we diagnose and treat our patients. In Part 1 of this blog, you learned the basics about brain SPECT imaging and why it is considered the future of psychiatry. In Part 2, you discovered some of the common patterns seen in SPECT brain scans. In this part, you will discover three additional brain SPECT imaging patterns, what causes them, and the corresponding interventions.

Brain SPECT Imaging Pattern 4: Hyperfrontality (frontal lobes work too hard)

SPECT Scan: Hyperfrontality Examples

OCD: Hyperfrontal pattern

Anxiety with obsessive thoughts: Hyperfrontal pattern

In this pattern, the frontal lobes of the brain are working too hard. We saw this pattern in a 37-year-old woman who came to see us because she was having trouble in her relationship and at work. Her husband complained that she was very negative and argumentative. At work, whenever something didn’t go as planned, she would stew about it for hours and miss deadlines. We diagnosed her with overfocused anxiety and depression and treated her with a combination of exercise, supplements, and specific foods. The treatment helped her relax, feel happier, and be more flexible in all areas of her life. Hyperfrontality can be seen in the following conditions:

Obsessive-Compulsive disorder spectrum
• Oppositional defiant disorder
Autism spectrum
• People who get stuck, worried, rigid, inflexible (when things get upset is things don’t go their way)
• Overfocused depression or anxiety (can’t stop thinking bad thoughts)

Increase serotonin to calm the brain through the following:

• Exercise
• Supplements (5HTP or saffron)
• SSRIs (antidepressant medication, if necessary)

Brain SPECT Imaging Pattern 5: Hypofrontality (low frontal lobe activity)

SPECT Scan: Hypofrontality

This pattern shows decreased activity in the front part of the brain

Hypofrontality indicates low activity in the frontal lobes. We noticed this pattern in a 7-year-old boy, who was restless, fidgety, unable to focus, and doing poorly in school. While he was at rest, his brain scan showed full even activity, but when he performed a concentration task his frontal lobes decreased in activity—an indicator of ADHD. In people who don’t have ADHD, the frontal lobes typically increase in activity while concentrating. With the right diagnosis and interventions, the boy was better able to pay attention in class and his grades improved. Hypofrontality is associated with:

• Schizophrenia
Traumatic brain injury
• Medications
• Predicts relapse in alcoholics
• Lack of conscientiousness
• Lack of forward thinking
• Some forms of depression


• Exercise
• Stimulating supplements, such as green tea, l-tyrosine, and rhodiola
• Stimulants, if ADHD
• Stimulating antipsychotics, if needed
• Stimulating antidepressants or SAMe, if depressed

Brain SPECT Imaging Pattern 6: Temporal Lobe Abnormalities

SPECT Scans: Temporal Lobe Examples

Intermittent Explosive Disorder: Low prefrontal and left and right temporal lobe activity (arrows)

Social Skills Issues, trouble reading social cues: Low right temporal lobe activity

This pattern indicates one or both of the temporal lobes are unbalanced. We saw this pattern in a 23-year-old man, who came to see us when his employer told him he would be fired if he didn’t get his anger under control. The young man would suddenly lash out at coworkers for no reason and then go back to being pleasant. After seeing temporal abnormalities in his SPECT brain scan, he began hyperbaric oxygen therapy and started following a ketogenic diet, which helped him gain control of his anger. Not only did he keep his job, he got promoted to a managerial role and gained the trust of his colleagues. Temporal lobe abnormalities can be seen in:

• Temporal lobe epilepsy
• Temporal lobe dysrhythmia
• Dyslexia
• Mood instability
• Irritability
• Intermittent explosive disorder


• Ketogenic diet
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)
• Anti-seizure medications
• Memory-enhancing medications or supplements, if memory is the problem

How does identifying these brain SPECT imaging patterns influence treatment?

In a 2012 study we conducted, we asked 7 psychiatrists to evaluate 109 consecutive charts without scans and then with scans. In 8 times out of 10, adding the scan into the review changed the diagnosis and/or treatment. In over 1 in 5 cases, the scan revealed an unexpected brain injury, and in another 1 in 5 cases, it revealed unexpected toxicity. And 60 percent of the time, it changed the medications or supplements recommended.
With brain SPECT imaging, do patients get better faster?

This is one of the most common questions I hear. We do outcome studies on all of our patients—we have over 7,000 outcomes on our patients. At the end of 6 months, if they are treated at Amen Clinics 84 percent of our complicated patients report being improved. And quality of life scores go up in 85 percent of patients. You can change your brain and change your life.

The Amen Clinics has been using brain SPECT imaging with its patients since 1991 and has the world’s largest functional brain imaging database related to brain health/mental health issues with over 150,000 SPECT scans on patients from 120 countries.

If you or someone you know would like more information about brain SPECT imaging at Amen Clinics, watch these two videos, or to make an appointment, visit us online or call: 888-288-9834.

SPECT Made Ridiculously Simple with Dr. Daniel Amen Part 1

SPECT Made Ridiculously Simple with Dr. Daniel Amen Part 2


  1. What is the cost? – in Atlanta location? or is there a location closer or OHIO? thank you

    Comment by becky roussos — April 10, 2019 @ 3:17 AM

  2. I would appreciate comments from Dr Amen on Electric Convulsive Theraphy
    Thank you

    Comment by Valerie palmer — April 10, 2019 @ 3:44 AM

  3. Waiting for a referral for a psychiatrist or a psychologist in the Phila area who can order a Spect scan for John. He is 40 yrs old & suffers from OCD & anxiety. In past 12 yrs his providers are only treating his symptoms. He does not want to travel to NYC. Thank you. Rocco Polidoro

    Comment by Rocco Polidoro — April 10, 2019 @ 4:26 AM

  4. I called to make an appointment for my mother today, was not given insurance information, just told it it would cost up to $4,900.00 and MIGHT be covered in part with insurance, but I would have to the leg work, to see if it would be reimbursable??? Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover this type of healthcare at all. A shame because this all makes sense why wouldn’t insurance want to help a patient? It will cost the insurance more in the end ……trust me. But Amen clinics offer you treatment. Stay exercising, take your supplements, sleep well Stay away from all things that will hurt your brain, i.e., alcohol, drugs, pills. Keep the ANTS away!

    Comment by Kealie Barker — April 10, 2019 @ 11:37 PM

  5. Congratulations on the diagnostic and treatment approach you have generated! All I was able to do electronically was to use audible biofeedback in interviews to diagnose emotional responses and treat them. Usually the client did not realize the energy used in responding to stimuli (unless it was quite obvious). God bless your work!

    PS: I think Scientology was based on this to some extent.

    Comment by Jim Krider, Jr., LCSW (ret.) — April 18, 2019 @ 4:05 AM

  6. Is a M.R.I the same as a SPECT ?

    Comment by Dianna Klein — May 6, 2019 @ 4:37 AM

  7. A SPECT scan is similar to an MRI study in that both can show 3D images and “slices” of the brain. However, whereas MRI shows the physical anatomy or structure of the brain, SPECT shows how the brain works. For more information, visit:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 6, 2019 @ 7:52 AM

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