دوشنبه, 28 اسفند 1391 ساعت 09:23

FMRI

نوشته شده توسط

Functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI (fMRI) is an MRI procedure that measures brain activity by detecting associated changes in blood flow.[1] This technique relies on the fact that cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation are coupled. When an area of the brain is in use, blood flow to that region also increases

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How Does an fMRI Work?

The cylindrical tube of an MRI scanner houses a very powerful electro-magnet. A typical research scanner has a field strength of 3 teslas (T), about 50,000 times greater than the Earth’s field. The magnetic field inside the scanner affects the magnetic nuclei of atoms. Normally atomic nuclei are randomly oriented but under the influence of a magnetic field the nuclei become aligned with the direction of the field. The stronger the field the greater the degree of alignment. When pointing in the same direction, the tiny magnetic signals from individual nuclei add up coherently resulting in a signal that is large enough to measure. In fMRI it is the magnetic signal from hydrogen nuclei in water (H2O) that is detected.

The key to MRI is that the signal from hydrogen nuclei varies in strength depending on the surroundings. This provides a means of discriminating between gray matter, white matter and cerebral spinal fluid in structural images of the brain.

Oxygen is delivered to neurons by hemoglobin in capillary red blood cells. When neuronal activity increases there is an increased demand for oxygen and the local response is an increase in blood flow to regions of increased neural activity.

Hemoglobin is diamagnetic when oxygenated but paramagnetic when deoxygenated. This difference in magnetic properties leads to small differences in the MR signal of blood depending on the degree of oxygenation. Since blood oxygenation varies according to the levels of neural activity these differences can be used to detect brain activity. This form of MRI is known as blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) imaging.

fMRI BOLD Effect

One point to note is the direction of oxygenation change with increased activity. You might expect blood oxygenation to decrease with activation, but the reality is a little more complex. There is a momentary decrease in blood oxygenation immediately after neural activity increases, known as the “initial dip” in the hemodynamic response. This is followed by a period where the blood flow increases, not just to a level where oxygen demand is met, but overcompensating for the increased demand. This means the blood oxygenation actually increases following neural activation. The blood flow peaks after around 6 seconds and then falls back to baseline, often accompanied by a “post-stimulus undershoot”