A Quick Look at How to Get a Brain Scan

At Amen Clinics, we believe that you can’t possibly know what’s going on inside your brain until you take a look. Imaging changes everything. It removes the guesswork from the standard psychiatric approach of prescribing high-powered medications to mask symptoms, which is like throwing darts at a dartboard in the dark. By contrast, our approach is to look inside the brain and to treat it with as natural a regimen as possible. We treat the root of the problem rather than just the symptom.


Your brain is involved in everything you do. How you think, act, and interact with other people is related to the moment-by-moment functioning of your brain.

When the brain works right, people tend to work right. When the brain is troubled, people tend to struggle to be their best selves. If mental disorders and aberrant behaviors are related to functional problems in the brain, the logical next step is to physically evaluate the brain. Why then are psychiatrists the only physicians who rarely look at the organ they treat?

It’s time for a change. Amen Clinics provides education and insight on the clinical use of brain imaging in psychiatry. Over the past 29 years Amen Clinics has built the world’s largest database of brain scans related to emotional, learning and behavioral problems.

Our study is comprised of brain SPECT images. SPECT stands for Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography. Because brain activity is directly related to blood flow, SPECT effectively shows us the patterns of activity in the brain. SPECT allows physicians to look deep inside the brain to observe three things: areas of the brain that work well, areas of the brain that work too hard and areas of the brain that don’t work hard enough.

Amen Clinics has performed over 145,000 scans on patients from age 3 to 103. In addition to diagnosing and treating patients with symptoms such as ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, autism, addiction, head trauma and many other complex or resistant psychiatric problems, we’ve also scanned many health-conscious individuals interested in learning more about their brains and how to keep them optimized far into the future.

What is a Full Evaluation?

The Full Evaluation is a comprehensive diagnostic process which allows our doctors to create a personalized and targeted treatment plan that’s designed to address your unique needs. The evaluation takes place in one of our clinics over a 2 to 3-day period. It involves several highly-trained professionals including your physician, who you will meet with on the last day.

The Full Evaluation includes several different appointments. Here’s a brief description of those appointments and what takes place at each step of the procedure:


SPECT is a nuclear medicine procedure which creates a functional 3D image of your brain. We conduct two brain SPECT imaging scans, one while you’re doing a concentration task, and one while you’re at rest. Prior to the concentration scan, you’ll take a 15-minute computerized test that measures attention and focus. During the resting scan, you’ll sit back and remain in a relaxed state.

The SPECT process typically takes 20 to 25 minutes for each scan and requires that you remain completely still during that time. A trained scan technologist will guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.

Clinical History

During this appointment, one of our trained Outcome Managers will discuss your symptoms, medical and mental health history. Everything discussed during your intake appointment may be included in your final report (unless otherwise specified by you). The open and accurate answers you provide will allow our doctor to develop the best treatment plan for you.

WebNeuro Online Testing

WebNeuro is an objective, web-based emotional and cognitive neuro-diagnostic testing service. It asks questions that examine how you’ve been feeling and functioning over the past week or so. It also gives you game-like tasks to complete. There’s no pass or fail. Testing takes approximately 40 minutes to complete.

Final Evaluation with the Doctor

After all appointments have been completed, you’ll meet with a physician for your final evaluation. Though you won’t meet with Dr. Amen, you can be confident that each of our physicians has been selected, trained and approved by him.

During the appointment, the physician will review your test results, clinical history, and scans. Additional information may be requested from you, and any questions you may have will be addressed at this time. Your physician will develop an individualized treatment plan for you. Our recommendations often include treatments other than prescription medications (e.g. natural supplements, dietary changes, nutrition plans, exercise, and various forms of therapy) that can be implemented at an Amen Clinics location, at home or with a local practitioner.

Follow-up Appointment

The follow-up appointment with your physician is typically scheduled 2 to 4 weeks after your final evaluation. This appointment is used to discuss treatment progress and address any remaining questions or concerns. Patients who live at a distance from our clinics can do their follow-up appointment over the phone.

For more information on how SPECT imaging can help provide a customized treatment plan to help heal your brain, call us today at 888-288-9834 or visit us online to schedule a visit.

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