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This conference reviewed the potential scope of application of recently developed techniques for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain. The most successful technique is based on the sensitivity of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to magnetic effects caused by the modulation of the oxygenation state of hemoglobin, which is induced by local variations in blood flow during task activation. Typically, the MRI signal increases by a few percentage points during brain activation because blood flow and oxygen supply sharply increase. Brain activation images with excellent combined spatial and temporal resolution have been obtained noninvasively using visual, sensorimotor, or auditory stimuli, or during higher-order cognitive processes such as language or mental imagery. Although sensitive to misregistration artifacts and macroscopic vessels, MRI permits both the direct correlation of function with underlying anatomy and repeated studies on the same person. It may become the method of choice for studies of mental and cognitive processes, presurgical mapping, monitoring recovery from stroke or head injuries, exploration of seizure disorders, or monitoring the effects of neuropharmaceuticals.


Journal article


Ann Intern Med

Publication Date





296 - 303


Animals, Brain, Cognition, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Motor Cortex, Speech, Visual Cortex