Brain Scans & Amen Clinic: Spect Vs. Pet Vs. Mri

edited May 2015 in Brain Hacking

I've recently become interested in the Amen Clinic after watching a promotional video that Dave Asprey and Dr. Daniel Amen created together.

There is serious amount of controversy in neuroscience if SPECT imaging is as valuable as Dr. Amen claims it is.

I may have sustained an mTBI several years ago and have started brain hacking as a way to overcome my (sometimes debilitating) symptoms, and (hopefully) transcend cognitive impairment and create a new baseline of experience for myself. The symptoms have been experiencing primarily are: sensory/visual processing deficits, cognitive impairments, vertigo, dissociative tendencies, migrane, and difficulty communicating. I used to be very sharp and confident, and my symptoms feel neurological, but so many illnesses (i.e. from Lymes to Aspergers) can cause those symptoms it been extremely trying to create a path to wellness and recovery.

Dr. Amen uses SPECT imaging for diagnosis which tracks blood flow activity patterns in the brain. He has been working for almost 20 years to quantify SPECT imaging with psychiatric diagnosis, brain injury, and other impairments and disorders. I think his work is valuable, but it is out of my insurance network and $4000 dollars to go through the diagnosis, cognitive testing, and medical history program.

I have started to look at all brain imaging techniques for diagnosis, so I can send myself in the absolute best path for recovery... The most common brain imaging procedures are MRI, PET, and SPECT. Other than that it's CT and QEEG, both of which seem less useful than PET or SPECT.

MRI is a 2 dimensional image that is basically a detailed snapshot of the brain, it's great for diagnosis of structural issues, stroke, etc, but holds no value for mTBI, cognitive, subtle, cognitive or psych symptoms.

SPECT tracks blood flow and uses a computer to generate a 3D image of the brain. Dr. Amen claims this can show brain injury, psychiatric diagnosis, over excitation, or under use patterns. The Amen clinic is very expensive, and their technology many people say is outdated for that kind of money, its controversial.

PET is starting to sound like the best option for what I'm looking for. PET also generates 3D computer scans (like SPECT) that can be useful for brain injury, seizure disorders, psychiatric diagnosis, but it sounds like PET is the most sensitive, and can be used to diagnose the broadest range of symptoms and disorders.

Does anyone know what is the absolute best diagnosis protocol? Also, perhaps there are cutting edge centers (similar to Amen Clinic) that are more off the radar? I deeply desire make a strong recovery, any insight helps.


  • I know this may not help you but for anybody that Is living in Canada. A SPECT scan is covered by heath care if you have a history  with brain trauma. I had my SPECT scan done in Toronto and only had to pay extra to my doctor to pick up the results and review the scans based on what he learned from Training with Dr. Amen. Also if you look on Dr Amen's web sight you can find a Dr. that is based in Vancouver, Canada who works with the Amen Clinic. That said, I taking a good quality fish oil ( about one tablespoon) a day and Magnesium  or an Epsom salt bath every day. Slow carbs are very important and  lots of good quality fats.  This will start to help in about two to three weeks. Meditation is also very key to getting better. Heart rate variability is great to smooth out your day and improve brain function.

    I have seen improvement since starting this in April this year.

  • edited May 2015

    Thanks for your response DJ,

    I am a nutritional consultant and holistic health is my life, my nutrition is pretty comprehensive, and lifestyle is the best I can manage while having symptoms, deficit, and impairment.

    Ive been on top of it since it happened. Even prior to the event health and fitness was my life.

    I do a lot with nutrition, meditation, biofeedback, moderate exersize, but I still have challenging symptoms. I feel like its essential for further diagnostic at this point.

    If I were in Canada I would get a SPECT immediately. Im thinking Hyperbaric Medicine could be of great benefit to me, but I need to understand whats going on more clearly. Brain impairment can happen on many levels so proper understanding for treatment is definitely key.

    Does anyone know if PET is a better option than SPECT? It seems like what you pay for at Amen clinic is advice on how to do alot of what I'm already doing. I feel like I need the scan and interpretation, followed by a " brain storm" of next steps to take past nutrition, exersize and lifestyle change.

  • Thank you Joshua for this post. I am also looking into going to Dr Amen's clinic for a brain scan. I have been on anti depressants for 15 years and want off of them badly. After hearing Dr Amen on bullet proof radio I decided to go for it. But after realizing the 4000 dollar price tag I decided to do more research.

    My question is just because you can see the blood flow from a SPECT how does that pinpoint the trauma/toxins/ADD/depression illness?

    It still seems a shot in the dark as far as treatment.

    I am contacting a psych hospital in my home town tomorrow which is rated in the top 10 in the country to see if I can find out any more information on the SPECT. I will post if I find out anything helpful for you.
  • Hey DJnewbee,

    I'm in Canada too. How did you convince your doctor to send you for a spec. I find it impossible here in BC,


  • Hey there,

    DJ newbie hacker and lorihale I'd love to know how you went about getting a referral from your family doctor (or any doctor for that matter) for a SPECT scan?
    I'm currently living overseas but would make the trip back for this procedure as it's been weighing on me for a few years now.

    I would really appreciate your help to reach some sort of resolve guys. Thanks a lot!

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