What is fMRI?

The fMRI or fMRI (common abbreviation for functional magnetic resonance imaging) is a still young imaging method in which certain brain functions are measured and localized. In other words, it makes visible which parts of the brain work, for example when we do a certain movement or look at something. These brain areas consume energy, which is passed as oxygen or sugar through the blood vessels and burned in the nerve cells.

Circulation of the brain measurable

The fMRI can detect the different levels of oxygen in the red blood cells - a high content indicates activity of the respective brain region. Thus, the fMRI measures the altered blood flow of the tissue in the various areas of the brain, which is caused by the need for energy of the active nerve cells.

fMRT compared to other methods

Since the physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered the invisible X-rays named after him in 1895, it has been possible for physicians to look into the human body without an operative procedure. However, X-rays cause damage to a living organism. Also the computed tomography (short CT) evaluates a large number of x-ray images taken from different perspectives and processes them computer-based into a three-dimensional image.

On the other hand, the fMRT can do without X-rays and other ionizing radiation and thus has a great advantage over the other methods. Like the Magnetic Resonance Therapy (MRI), which has been developed since the 1980s and provides information on organs, tissue and consequently pathological changes by means of individual sectional images, the fMRI does not just allow a view of the bones.

Who benefits from the fMRI?

The fMRT provides new insights into how brain functions. Emotional and cognitive processes, in particular, can be examined more closely with the aid of fMRI. Neuropsychology and neurology use the fMRI to study different processes of brain metabolism in healthy individuals and patients suffering from mental disorders. In addition to psychiatric neurological syndromes are being investigated with the new possibilities of fMRI. In addition, the fMRI is used to study brain tumors and chronic pain.

Before surgery, fMRI allows conclusions to be drawn on how much tumor can be removed without damaging healthy, functional brain tissue. Thus, the dangers of paralysis, speech disorders or sensory deficits, which can arise during an operation, can be reduced. The fMRI can also represent the fiber connections and fiber tracts in the brain, which must not be destroyed during an operation.

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