There are a limited number of techniques to actually study the effect
of medications on the intact brain. PET is often used, but has its limitations. Functional MRI is a newer methodology, which
looks at function, and can correlate with structure and across disease states, inculding Alzheimers and seizure disorder.
Using fMRI, the neuropharmacologic response to medications can be determined.
Salmeron and Stein (2002) note the value and economic potential of fMRI
in neuropharmacology research but caution against traps in study design and data interpretation.
fMRI is proving very useful in studying adverse effects of medication
on the brain. Patterns in fMRI may indicate seizure disorder, altered blood flow, decreased neural activity in specific locations,
and other malactivation. Such patterns in an early clinical development program could help make the difference in further
drug development, stopping clinical research, or changes in dose or frequency.