Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, is a technique for measuring brain activity. The procedure is similar to MRI but uses the change in magnetization between oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood as its basic measure. It works by detecting changes in blood oxygenation and flow that occur in response to neural activity. When a brain area is more active it consumes more oxygen and, to meet this increased demand, blood flow increases to the active area. fMRI is becoming the diagnostic method of choice for learning how a normal, diseased or injured brain is working. Since the early 1990s, fMRI has come to lead brain mapping research because it does not require people to undergo shots, surgery, or to ingest substances, or be exposed to radiations. This measure is frequently corrupted by noise from various sources and hence statistical procedures are used to extract the underlying signal. The resulting brain activation can be presented graphically by color-coding the strength of activation across the brain or the specific region studied.

For our projects we will use the Siemens MAGNETOM Allegra. It is a 3 Tesla MRI scanner designed specifically for fast imaging of the brain - the only optimized 3T brain scanner. The Siemens Allegra provides excellent imaging and it is built to offer exceptional performance for brain functional research.

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