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Home » Daniel Amen on The Most Important Lesson From 83,000 Brain Scans (Transcript)

Daniel Amen on The Most Important Lesson From 83,000 Brain Scans (Transcript)

Daniel Amen at TEDxOrangeCoast

Here is the full text and summary of psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen’s talk: The Most Important Lesson From 83,000 Brain Scans at TEDxOrangeCoast conference.


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.

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 that 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 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.

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