Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría
Print version ISSN 0034-7450
Introduction: Despite the recognized effectiveness of diverse psychotherapies, very little is known about their action mechanisms specifically from a neurobiological point of view. Since Sigmund Freud to Eric Kandel, there have been several attempts to study the neural correlates of psychotherapeutic interventions. So far they have been conceived as a learning process of new ways to perceive the world, since they involve encephalic structures related to memory, executive function, self-perception, and emotional regulation. Neuroimaging and electro-chemical testing are methods of approaching neuronal functioning that could help to better understand the relationship between psychotherapy and the brain. Method: A contextual framework is proposed in this article in order to review some of the studies that demonstrate an empiric relation between different psychotherapeutic techniques and an observable change in laboratory parameters or neuroimaging findings in patients with some psychiatric disorders. Results and Conclusions: Despite the limitations of the studies such as small sample sizes and heterogeneous methodology, there is now far more clear evidence that psychotherapy works with a cerebral mechanism expressed in neurofunctional changes that provide solid arguments to the permanent debate in Philosophy of Mind about the mind-brain dichotomy, showing the ontological implausibility of this dichotomy, and the need for different epistemological levels that will allow Psychology and Psychiatry to benefit from the development of the neurosciences.
Keywords : Psychotherapy; mental disorders; neurosciences; review.