The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans | Daniel Amen | TEDxOrangeCoast

The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans | Daniel Amen | TEDxOrangeCoast


Translator: Ilze Garda
Reviewer: Denise RQ In this talk, I’m going to give you
the single most important lesson my colleagues and I have learned
from looking at 83,000 brain scans. But first, let me put
the lesson into context. I am in the middle of seven children. Growing up, my father called me a maverick which to him was not a good thing. (Laughter) In 1972, the army called my number, and I was trained as an infantry medic
where my love of medicine was born. But since I truly hated the idea
of being shot at or sleeping in the mud, I got myself retrained
as an X-ray technician and developed a passion
for medical imaging. As our professors used to say:
“How do you know, unless you look?” In 1979, when I was
a second-year medical student, someone in my family
became seriously suicidal, and I took her to see
a wonderful psychiatrist. Over time, I realized
if he helped her, which he did, it would not only save her life, but it would also help her children
and even her future grandchildren, as they would be shaped by someone
who is happier and more stable. I fell in love with psychiatry because I realized it had the potential
to change generations of people. In 1991, I went to my first lecture
on brain SPECT imaging. SPECT is a nuclear medicine study
that looks at the blood flow and activity, it looks at how your brain works. SPECT was presented
as a tool to help psychiatrists get more information
to help their patients. In that one lecture,
my two professional loves, medical imaging and psychiatry, came together, and quite honestly,
revolutionized my life. Over the next 22 years,
my colleagues and I would build the world’s largest database
of brain scans related to behavior on patients from 93 countries. SPECT basically tells us
three things about the brain: good activity, too little, or too much. Here’s a set of healthy SPECT scans. The image on the left shows
the outside surface of the brain, and a healthy scan shows full,
even, symmetrical activity. The color is not important,
it’s the shape that matters. In the image on the right,
red equals the areas of high activity, and in a healthy brain, they’re typically
in the back part of the brain. Here’s a healthy scan compared
to someone who had two strokes. You can see the holes of activity. Here’s what Alzheimer’s looks like, where the back half
of the brain is deteriorating. Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease
actually starts in the brain 30 to 50 years before
you have any symptoms? Here’s a scan
of a traumatic brain injury. Your brain is soft,
and your skull is really hard. Or drug abuse. The real reason not to use drugs –
they damage your brain. Obsessive–compulsive disorder where the front part of the brain
typically works too hard, so that people cannot
turn off their thoughts. An epilepsy where we frequently
see areas of increased activity. In 1992, I went to an all-day conference
on brain SPECT imaging, it was amazing and mirrored our own early experience
using SPECT in psychiatry. But at that same meeting,
researchers started to complain loudly that clinical psychiatrists like me
should not be doing scans, that they were only for their research. Being the maverick
and having clinical experience, I thought that was a really dumb idea. (Laughter) Without imaging, psychiatrists then and even now
make diagnosis like they did in 1840, when Abraham Lincoln was depressed, by talking to people and looking
for symptom clusters. Imaging was showing us
there was a better way. Did you know that psychiatrists
are the only medical specialists that virtually never look
at the organ they treat? Think about it! Cardiologists look, neurologists look,
orthopedic doctors look, virtually every other
medical specialties look – psychiatrists guess. Before imaging, I always felt like I was throwing
darts in the dark at my patients and had hurt some of them
which horrified me. There is a reason that most psychiatric medications
have black box warnings. Give them to the wrong person,
and you can precipitate a disaster. Early on, our imaging work
taught us many important lessons, such as illnesses, like ADHD,
anxiety, depression, and addictions, are not simple or single
disorders in the brain, they all have multiple types. For example, here are two patients who have been diagnosed
with major depression, that had virtually the same symptoms,
yet radically different brains. One had really low activity in the brain,
the other one had really high activity. How would you ever know what to do
for them, unless you actually looked? Treatment needs to be tailored to individual brains,
not clusters of symptoms. Our imaging work also taught us that mild traumatic brain injury
was a major cause of psychiatric illness that ruin people’s lives, and virtually no one knew about it
because they would see psychiatrists for things like temper problems,
anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and they would never look,
so they would never know. Here’s a scan of a 15-year-old boy who felt down a flight of stairs
at the age of three. Even though he was unconscious
for only a few minutes, there was nothing mild
about the enduring effect that injury had on this boy’s life. When I met him at the age of 15,
he had just been kicked out of his third residential
treatment program for violence. He needed a brain rehabilitation program, not just more medication
thrown at him in the dark, or behavioral therapy which,
if you think about it, is really cruel. To put him on a behavioral therapy program when behavior is really an expression
of the problem, it’s not the problem. Researchers have found
that undiagnosed brain injuries are a major cause of homelessness,
drug and alcohol abuse, depression, panic attacks, ADHD, and suicide. We are in for a pending disaster with the hundreds
and thousands of soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afganistan, and virtually no one is looking
at the function of their brain. As we continued our work with SPECT, the criticism grew louder,
but so did the lessons. Judges and defense attorneys sought
our help to understand criminal behavior. Today, we have scanned
over 500 convicted felons including 90 murderers. Our work taught us
that people who do bad things often have troubled brains. That was not a surprise. But what did surprise us was that many of these brains
could be rehabilitated. So here’s a radical idea. What if we evaluated
and treated troubled brains rather than simply warehousing them
in toxic, stressful environments? In my experience, we could save
tremendous amounts of money by making these people more functional, so when they left prison, they could work, support their families and pay taxes. Dostoyevsky once said:
“A society should be judged not by how well it treats
its outstanding citizens, but by how it treats its criminals.” Instead of just crime and punishment, we should be thinking
about crime evaluation and treatment. (Applause) So after 22 years and 83,000 scans, the single most important lesson
my colleagues and I have learned is that you can literally
change people’s brains. And when you do, you change their life. You are not stuck with the brain you have, you can make it better,
and we can prove it. My colleagues and I performed
the first and largest study on active and retired NFL players, showing high levels of damage
in these players at the time when the NFL said they didn’t know if playing football caused
long-term brain damage. The fact was they didn’t want to know. That was not a surprise. I think, if you get the most thoughtful
9-year-olds together, and you talk about the brain is soft,
about the consistency of soft butter, it’s housed in a really hard skull
that has many sharp, bony ridges, you know, 28 out of 30
nine-year-olds would go: “Probably a bad idea for your life.” (Laughter) But what really got us excited
was the second part of the study where we put players
on a brain-smart program and demonstrated
that 80% of them could improve in the areas of blood flow,
memory, and mood, that you are not stuck
with the brain you have, you can make it better
on a brain-smart program. How exciting is that? I am so excited. Reversing brain damage
is a very exciting new frontier, but the implications
are really much wider. Here is this scan
of a teenage girl who has ADHD, who was cutting herself, failing
in school, and fighting with her parents. When we improved her brain, she went from D’s and F’s to A’s and B’s, and was much more emotionally stable. Here is the scan of Nancy. Nancy had been diagnosed with dementia, and her doctor told her husband
that he should find a home for her because within a year,
she would not know his name. But on an intensive,
brain-rehabilitation program, Nancy’s brain was better,
as was her memory, and four years later,
Nancy still knows her husband’s name. Or my favorite story
to illustrate this point: Andrew, a 9-year-old boy who attacked
a little girl on the baseball field for no particular reason, and at the time,
was drawing pictures of himself hanging from a tree
and shooting other children. Andrew was Columbine, Aurora, and Sandy Hook waiting to happen. Most psychiatrists
would have medicated Andrew, as they did Eric Harris
and the other mass shooters before they committed their awful crimes, but SPECT imaging taught me
that I had to look at his brain and not throw darts in the dark at him
to understand what he needed. His SPECT scan showed
a cyst, the size of a golf ball, occupying the space
of his left temple lobe. No amount of medication or therapy
would have helped Andrew. When the cyst was removed, his behavior completely
went back to normal, and he became the sweet, loving boy
he always wanted to be. Now 18 years later,
Andrew, who is my nephew, owns his own home,
is employed and pays taxes. (Laughter) Because someone bothered
to look at his brain, he has been a better son, and will be a better husband,
father, and grandfather. When you have the privilege
of changing someone’s brain, you not only change his or her life but you have the opportunity
to change generations to come. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans | Daniel Amen | TEDxOrangeCoast”

  1. One of the best of TEDx.
    It's the real need of modern world to combat the major problems of modern world…
    Corruption
    Terrorism
    Increasing the pace of development.
    Increasing the mind capabilities for rising the power as a human species to combat the space race as a human species.
    To be placed ahead as a civilization on Earth, Moon, and Mars…

  2. They now have brain scans of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) or its full acronym DJTDS. Oddly, the letters C N N are imprinted on their brains. Only full frontal lobotomy cured these patients ostensibly due to them forgetting every lie CNN every broadcast to them. Kidding obviously 🙄

    On a serious note, this is revolutionary. Advances in AI combined with brain scan imagery could absolutely bring mental health diagnostics to a new level. You still need psychiatry and psychology, since recovery solutions are many times multifaceted. Very interested in the topic.

  3. This type of scan would probably help me. My thinking is supper fast then it gets foggy on bad days. I sometimes forget important stuff and my speech alternates from bad to just ok to slurred and repetitive.

  4. A brain scan for the leaders such as the ones messing up democracies corrupting politicians with their money in this world should be mandatory, we have the technologies and resources to feed every single human being coming to life and yet the leaders are building more effective weapons to blow ourselves up. Great Job, fantastic video.

  5. Psychiatric diagnosis and treatment is purely based on clinical experience and interview and takes years of experience exposure to come to a diagnosis. Talking of SPECT PET or brain smart program looks and sounds good. How many in India can afford it, what tools are for research based criteria should remain the same it must not be made compulsory investigation if Payient can not afford it. There are 2 sides of every story. Even we all have several stories to tell of completely curing psychiatry illnesses without these neuro imaging. Generations cannot be improved so easily as u suggest. Disagree Dir on your views at several levels

  6. A simple mri would've detected a monster grade 4 AVM in the space of my left temporal lobe that's been there 51 years this month. If it weren't for the seizure at 48…..it wouldn't have been found until my autopsy.
    Since then……Gammaknife, and a great medical team at University of Colorado Anschutz, it's shrinking up. But the imaging is critically important in my case. Saving my life….and improving it in ways that I was incapable of understanding.

  7. Why don't we use these scans to see if one would be eligible for gun ownership? a person gets a scan, scans show no signs of mental illness, this qualifies that person for a gun license.

    A person would need to renew his license every 5 years, along with a scan.

    This is my gift to society, someone needs to run with it.

  8. Too ambiguous.
    At the end of the day, it's simple math. It would seem that having psychopats and mal-adjusted undesirables roaming the streets and populating prisons is still cheaper than implementing such procedures and covering brain scans via basic medical insurance.

  9. The mystery of our brains aren't solved by scanning and looking at similar activities and pattern them to cure fail functions, its more required than that. Sounds good like all branches do when they discover some more details on an issue. But to let us think you have solved all criminal activities of individuals by picturing their brain and have them rehabilitated by a program specially for an individual, that's playing with timebombs. No one really understands completely what goes on and out in a brain. It might look reasonable for a time period and suddenly it strikes again. We know we are not good enough yet, and should be aware of what damage we can cause for loosing our patience, and that is irresponsible.

  10. I am outside of Nashville,TN. My 16 yo grandson was injured on a 4wheeler @ the age of 14. 9mos past the accident he turned onto a totally different person. He has not received a scan. A Psychiatrist Rx meds 20x the normal dose. Since 1/2019 he has been hospitalized @ 4 different facilities a total of 150 d. NOBODY WILL LOOK!!

  11. Such typical hypochondriac American responses below. However rather than being addicted to pill popping as so many Americans are, if this imaging is affordable and non invasive, why not? For example, I read recently that rugby league players are under the spotlight for associated brain damage. However, apparently only to be detected in autopsy. Question therefore, how invasive and costly is this, and to what extend is it covered under health care programs, or accessible as a “let’s take a look and see”?

  12. Unfortunately with a little search I found that he is not reliable. It's sad that Ted gives space to unreliable people. If you seeing someone claims so simply that he knows a simple method that no one uses for… reasons. Usually it's a scam.

    ''officials at major psychiatric and neuroscience associations and research centers say his SPECT claims are no more than myth and poppycock.
    None of the nation’s most prestigious medical organizations in the field — including the APA, the National Institute of Mental Health, the American College of Radiology, the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and the National Alliance on Mental Illness — validates his claims
    No major research institution takes his SPECT work seriously, none regards him as “the number one neuroscience guy,” and his revelations, which he presents to rapt audiences as dispatches from the front ranks of science, make the top tier of scientists roll their eyes or get very angry.''

    Joseph Victor Stefanchik/For The Washington Post

  13. Omg I love this!! Yes I have two Autistic children and would love to get this for them and myself. I love this approach. Especially, helping those in society who are hurt to rehabilitate rather than locking them up. 😊♥️

  14. Astute individuals like this doctor do not pooh pooh things away but look at why. Too much of the population pooh poohs everything. Why is it that in 2019 we have to make this point?

  15. This is so disturbing to learn that psychiatry doesn't use imaging in their profession. Why is the exactly as Dr Amen pointed out every other healthcare professional using this as a treatment plan beginning? Should this NOT be a standard requirement in cases of health instead of stabs in the dark and a bevy of drugs to treat what "might" be wrong? Hard to believe the medical field is still so archaic . Thank you Dr Amen & your team for all the research you have worked so hard over many years of proving how we should look at brain scans for overall health benefits!!

  16. I am wondering how reliable are these speakers? I would like to believe in his words and many others but just wondering if on TED talk could come a liar and talk lies?

  17. This is all great, but thinking that through a brain scan we can cure all the destructive and harmful human behavior is quite naif and misleading: we are living in a very sick society, based on greed and exploitation. We send young men around the World to slaughter people for corporate interests and the problem is they get PTSD, not that US are killing and creating instability all over the World…sooner or later violence always comes back.

  18. Great speech. However, he did not take into account neurophysiological changes that happen during psychotherapy, nor did he discuss the practical possibilities of using SPECT in routine practice. SPECT assessment is so expensive that it is not possible to apply it in our daily practice.

  19. Thank you for your hard work in this study it is very valuable for our aging citizens but most important for diagnosing our military in combat positions need brain scans to determine the impact of their exposure to IEDs which exploded directly under the vehicle compressing the backbone and spinal cord driving it into the brain stem compressing the brain into the top of the cranium, causing massive TBI in many soldiers and Marines!

    There were over 250,000 wounded in Iraq alone, many because of their body armor they were wearing had all their limbs blown off ! They can treat wounds of the body, but leave the brain to try and heal on its own, all the VA can do is medicate them with powerful psychotropic drugs! Your study will greatly improve the life of many PTSD and TBI casualties of all the wars these brave young people have suffered! This way civilians can help pay them back for their sacrifices they have made for us! Thank you, sir!

  20. I agree, however you've skipped a very important field, today Pollutions causes many disorders, some are temporary. Electricity is everywhere, Radiation effects us all, and common mind overload from high speed internet activities. Today are brains become damaged by Public School Education schedules. Expectations of simple activities to Mass thought processing, exhaustion the brain beyond heart attacks do to over activities.

  21. As a nurse that has a background in pediatric head injury, I find this fascinating! I always wandered about long term effect on their lives… Thank you Dr!

  22. I have been feeling the effects of a Tbi from a accident while on work. Yet i am not being taken seriously about my condition. Pcs is the unseen injury.

  23. Thank You for this video and this information. PROGRESS in science and medicine takes time. I hope more people get the right help through advances in science to make this a better world for everyone.

  24. I researched this and found reviews of his clinic, they charge about 3,000 dollars if I remember correctly and you get two scans. That's about it, they don't seem to give detailed information and if something is "Off" they just say exercise and take vitamins. So I read from review's. His talk is impressive, but in practice pretty weak from the reviews I read.

  25. Paul Stamets Joe Rogan's 1035# podcast <> Neuron rewiring occurs using believe it or not Magic Mushrooms and by way of both trippy and also micro-dosing!

  26. There were instances on speedy cricket ball gets hit on head. And other sports like judo football wrestling diving kabaddi boxing rugby racing etc is passionately played almost every day without a clue of damage ahead.

  27. reading the comments seems like almost everyone os us thinks we have something not right in our brains, we all want scans!

  28. What about a girl w/continued trauma because her birth father's wife won't let her meet him, .. going on 20 years. Just an example for an adoptee… ?? What is this theapy and how much? Will only the rich be able to attain this help?

  29. Wow, revolutionary, great work. My thoughts immediately went to scanning every brain of serial killer, mass shooter and other heinous act on civilians and looking for patterns that were in the exact locations of the brain for these acts, and see if there is correlation,. Also, I propose a brain imaging scan prior to buying a gun!!!!

  30. I’ve always wanted my brain scanned as I’ve had 15 episodes of mania yet recovery is only a few days and only a few days during the episode on low medication. The rest of the time I’m on no medication and live a normal stable life. The U.K. doctors find my case unusual. If ever you are in the U.K. look me up 🙂 P.S. after each episode it unblocks more knowledge and the ability to learn knowledge.

  31. Powerful talk. So insightful and informative. Brain scans should be apart of evaluation when suffering from disorders and mental illnesses for sure. How is this not already in place?! Let's stop throwing darts in the dark. 🎯🎯🎯

  32. See, it wasn't the guns fault. Now we need to look at brain development in relation to environment and parents causing disorders due to prolonged neglect of children. If only the state didn't disrupt the family unit, there'd likely be a lot less underdeveloped children. Make it easy to raise a family. Big picture, it is intentional sabotage for the purposes of destroying society. The family unit is the foundation of society. This is a multigenerational war upon all of us.

  33. Good info and very interesting indeed. but did not get what is done in brain improvement program ? Is there a part 2 to this talk?

  34. Thanks so much for another "vote" to re-think the Extremely Outdated "correctional money-making system" !!!
    Blessings, Ivette 🙂

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