Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is an emerging methodology for studying regional brain function in vivo at relatively high spatial and temporal resolution. Because MRI methods are comparatively inexpensive and entirely noninvasive, fMRI has rapidly become one of the most popular approaches for brain mapping in cognitive and systems neuroscience. There has also been great interest in using fMRI to assist in clinical diagnosis and management, with promising demonstrations of feasibility in a number of applications. Both resting and task-specific regional brain activity can be measured, primarily utilizing alterations in regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) as a surrogate marker for neural function. This article reviews the biophysical and physiological bases of fMRI and its applications to the clinical neurosciences, with particular attention to potential challenges of fMRI under pathophysiological conditions. Carefully controlled prospective evaluation of clinical fMRI in its various potential applications will be required for fMRI to be validated as a clinically useful tool. Because the technology for fMRI is widely available, its impact could be substantial. NEUROSCIENTIST 7(1):64-79, 2001.
- Brain mapping
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging
- Neuropsychiatric disorders
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology