Dr. Amen's Brain Master package, which purportedly decreases Alzheimer's risk and improves brain performance, includes two DVDs by Dr. Amen, a hardcover book, a CD-ROM cookbook and a six DVD course by Dr. Amen's wife. The package also contains a questionnaire and a year's membership to Dr. Amen's online program. Although Dr. Amen's clinics, nutritional products and media presentations are popular, the imaging tests that are the basis of his treatments have no basis in valid scientific research.
Dr. Amen bases his work treating patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other psychiatric problems on a brain imaging diagnostic tool called single proton emission computed tomography, or SPECT. Doctors usually use the technology to detect cancerous tumors and cardiovascular disease, and neurologists use it to find problems such as dementia, epilepsy and heavy drug use. Although Dr. Amen claims he can use SPECT to pinpoint evidence of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder, officials at research centers and science associations discount his assertions as spurious. No major medical or research organization validates his claims.
Medical experts view his attempts to use SPECT in psychiatric diagnoses as the modern equivalent of the 19th century pseudoscience of phrenology, which asserted that the shape of the human skull determines the mind's processes. Some psychiatrists credit the placebo effect for Dr. Amen's positive effect on vulnerable patients but point out that it is unethical to advertise and sell medical services that have not undergone scientific standards of testing.