How Does SPECT Differ from Other Brain Scans?

How Does SPECT Differ from Other Brain Scans?

Are you struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or another mental health condition and wondering if brain imaging might be helpful for you? Brain SPECT scans can be beneficial in many ways for people with psychiatric symptoms, especially compared with other types of brain imaging. Here’s a quick look at how SPECT differs from other types of brain imaging.


What is it?

Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is a nuclear medicine study that measures blood flow and activity in the brain. 

What does it show?

SPECT shows how the brain functions and reveals areas of the brain with healthy activity, too much activity, or too little activity. SPECT is commonly used in medical settings to evaluate brain trauma, dementia, and cerebral vascular disease, and also for epilepsy patients undergoing surgery. Based on findings from the world’s largest database of functional brain scans related to behavior,  SPECT has also shown to be useful in evaluating the subtypes of ADD/ADHD, depression, and anxiety; substance abuse; exposure to toxins; violence; and complex mental health problems, or treatment-resistant psychiatric issues. Among SPECT’s many benefits, it averages brain activity levels over a few minutes, making it ideal for evaluating brain function during everyday activities, such as concentrating, meditating, reading.

Some of the additional ways SPECT can help include:

  • Decreasing shame and stigma
  • Improving compliance
  • Breaking denial
  • Helping prevent treatment mistakes
  • Offering hope that you can change your brain


What is it?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to view parts of the brain.

What does it show?

The 3-D pictures produced can show problems in the anatomical structure of the brain or brain stem, such as tumors, cysts, blood vessel problems, inflammation, swelling, or infections. MRI does not give any information on brain function, which limits its effectiveness in providing useful information on conditions involving behavior or emotions. In addition, MRI scanners can feel claustrophobic and are very noisy, which causes anxiety for some people.


What is it?

Functional MRI, or fMRI, is a type of MRI that measures blood flow and brain activity. The fMRI is a very expensive tool that has become popular for scientific research but is not as commonly used in clinical settings.

What does it show?

fMRI shows neural activity in real-time, showing how the brain responds to various stimuli. Like an MRI, the procedure can be uncomfortable and loud and can make people feel anxious.


What is it?

PET (positron emission tomography) is a nuclear imaging technology that is similar to SPECT in that it is a functional brain scan, but it is more costly.

What does it show?

Like SPECT, PET scans allow healthcare professionals to view how the brain functions. PET measures blood flow and glucose metabolism in the brain. PET scans are often used to check for cancerous tumors or to see if cancer elsewhere in the body has spread to the brain. They are also used to investigate epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and other dementias, traumatic brain injuries, and movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Amen Clinics has the world’s largest database of functional brain scans related to emotional, behavioral, and learning issues and utilizes brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation. SPECT scans allow us to more accurately diagnose and more effectively treat our patients.

Learn more about how a brain scan could help you overcome conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury by calling 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit.

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  1. Amy says:


    I want to know how I can help my husband who had a brain injury as an infant and is now 58 years old. For the 38 years we’ve been married, he has become increasingly more hostile angry outbursts in his behavior. I don’t know what to do. We live in Maine and I would like to have him have a spect test but we don’t have the financial resources to pay for it. Is there any way he could be seen by a dr without having the test and put on medication to help?
    He is on a antidepressant but it doesn’t seem to be working.
    Please direct me to some help as I am desperate to have things get better.

    Thank you

    • Ronald Kelley says:

      Hi I’m in Maine also in the same situation but also with adhd, ptsd. I am interested in in this also your husband is not alone !

      • Lisa Handley says:

        I know this is kind of off-the-wall but they have recently discovered that intermittent explosive disorder which was once thought to be a mental condition is actually due to parasites in the brain. I was able to go to the Amen Clinic and that’s one of the things that they have you tested for because it can mimic a mental disorder

      • Edwin Rivera says:

        He should be taking lots of Magnisium Glycinate to keep him calm. Its a mineral that 80% of Americans are deficient on. Make sure its Magnisium Glycinate. He should take atleast 500mg daily. Also, vitamin B6 before bed time. These supplements will help immensely. Good luck


    • Marta says:

      I found Dr. Amen’s book: Memory Rescue to be invaluable. Have you read it? It’s more than Memory… a more accurate title for the book would be The Humans Guide to Caring for the Brain. It’s that good. I’m not sure how quickly I can get to his clinic, but I’m going to follow the instructions for all 10 aspects of brain health. And then get to the clinic as fast as I can.

      I took the free online tests and I am high risk for memory disorders, so I’m handling it before it starts.

      Once you get a referral from your main doctor for neurological help, you can get the insurance codes from Amen Clinics and see if your insurance covers it. Follow the neurologists procedures (they usually have to do a series of appointments) get your referral and give it a try
      I took the book into my doctor’s office and my overall plan is to get the referral to Amen clinic.
      My doctor had never seen it and was very curious.

      Call the clinic and start the ball rolling. Don’t wait.

      Best of luck to you! Love your brain and change your life!

  2. Millie Dingham says:

    Would brain Spect Imaging be able to help in treating tinnitis/ear problems?

  3. Terry Parrish, MD says:

    I am a psychiatrist and have a woman with what I would consider refractory depression, attempting a variety of medications as well as Ketamine, all with limited if any response. She lives here in Indianapolis, and was wondering what your closet facility would be she might be able to be evaluated at. Any help would be greatly appreciated by both the patient and this MD. Sincerely, Terry M. Parrish, MD

  4. Mary Simpson says:

    I have been diagnosed with small vessel ischemic disease. I there a cure or treatment. My only symptom is loss of balance. Thanks

    • Con Micallef says:

      Hi. I had a similar problem . I went to our doctor indicating that I had lost my balance and could not stand up . He asked me how I felt at that time .I said that when I ate food my jaw felt very tired . He immediately said that is the symptom of Giant cell disease or Temporal Arthritis.
      It turned out that he was correct. This effects the eye. The left blood vessel on my temple was blocked a biopsy was taken to prove it . Had to go on 60mg of Prednesone,Asprin and etc. and reduce amount every month . If it is this disease it is essential that you get on to medication quickly as you may loose your eye sight in that eye.
      Hope you get better and regards. I look after my wife with dementia at home and it is quite important to keep well.
      Con Micallef
      New Zealand

    • Diane Kim says:

      Pretty sure HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen) helps with that. It helps the body grow new blood vessels everywhere, including the brain. Depending on where you live, you might be lucky enough to live by a “non-hospital” center so you could get treated in a “hospital grade” chamber (100% oxygen at 2.0 ATM or higher), or it’s easier to find “bag oxygen” to rent, which is condensed oxygen from room air (about 40-45%) and pressure only up to 1.5 ATM. Neither one will be covered by insurance.

      • Lisa Handley says:

        How very decent, respectful and humble of you to obviously care more about your patients than having a good complex and being too good to ask.

  5. Grace Granda says:

    I have been involved in a head on collision and experiencing, high anxiety, insomnia, fear of driving, depression, panics.
    Is there a payment plan with your program? I would like to test my brain.


  6. Loretta Kelly says:

    What is the cost of the brain scan? I live in Laguna Woods, Ca where is the closest location to me?

  7. Lisa Handley says:

    Hbots are wonderful. I pray you have the opportunity to get in one. Good luck


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