Molecular Imaging: Positron Emission Tomography

Joanna S. Fowler, Nora D. Volkow

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Positron emission tomography (PET), when coupled with molecularly targeted positron emitter labeled organic compounds or labeled drugs, enables the measurement of biochemical transformations and the movement of drugs directly into the human brain and other organs. PET is the only imaging technology that can image and quantify specific cellular elements as well as the distribution and movement of drugs in the living human brain. This chapter introduces PET technology and radiotracer chemistry, which has enabled the visualization and quantification of the chemical anatomy of the human brain (as well as that of other organs) while working within the time constraints imposed by short-lived isotopes. It concludes with examples of PET studies in major brain diseases and in drug development as well as an outlook for the future of PET technologies in the neurosciences including its value for understanding the role of genes in brain diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeuroscience in the 21st Century
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Basic to Clinical: Third Edition
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783030888329
ISBN (Print)9783030888312
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Brain diseases
  • CNS drugs
  • Carbon-11
  • Depression
  • Dopamine
  • Drug development
  • Fluorine-18
  • Mechanisms
  • Molecular imaging
  • Movement disorders
  • PET radioisotopes
  • Pharmacodynamics
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Positron decay
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Radiotracer chemistry
  • Radiotracer design
  • Schizophrenia


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