Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a non-invasive neuroimaging technique used to investigate human brain function and cognition in both healthy individuals and populations with abnormal brain states. Functional MRI utilizes a magnetic resonance signal to detect changes in blood flow that are coupled to neuronal activation when a specific task is performed. This is possible because hemoglobin within the blood has different magnetic properties depending on whether or not it is bound to oxygen. When a certain task is performed, there is an influx of oxygenated blood to brain regions responsible for that function, and this influx can then be detected with specific MRI scan parameters. This phenomenon is termed the blood oxygen level ependent (BOLD) effect, and can be used to create maps of brain activity.
This video begins with a brief overview of how MRI and fMRI signal is obtained. Then, basic experimental design is reviewed, which involves first setting up a stimulus presentation that is specifically designed to test the function that will be mapped. Next, key steps involved in performing the fMRI scan are introduced, including subject safety and setting up at the scanner. Commonly used steps for data processing are then presented, including pre-processing and statistical analysis with the general linear …
Source: Laboratories of Jonas T. Kaplan and Sarah I. Gimbel—University of Southern California
Traditional brain imaging techniques using MRI are very good at visualizing the gross structures of the brain. A structural brain image made with MRI provides high contrast of the borders between gray and white matter, and information about the size and shape of brain structures. However, these images do not detail the underlying structure and integrity of white matter networks in the brain, which consist of axon bundles that interconnect local and distant brain regions.
Diffusion MRI uses pulse sequences that are sensitive to the diffusion of water molecules. By measuring the direction of diffusion, it is possible to make inferences about the structure of white matter networks in the brain. Water molecules within an axon are constrained in their movements by the cell membrane; instead of randomly moving in every direction with equal probability (isotropic movement), they are more likely to move in certain directions, in parallel with the axon (anisotropic movement; Figure 1). Therefore, measures of diffusion anisotropy are thought to reflect properties of the white matter such as fiber density, axon thickness, and degree of myelination. One common measure is fractional anisotropy…