Functional MRI (fMRI)
MR technology allows physicians to see the anatomic structure of the body's organs and tissues. Functional MR (fMR) enables physicians to see how the body functions. An fMRI is performed on a conventional MRI unit that consists of a very large magnet and uses a safe, non-invasive magnetic field and radiofrequency waves to take pictures of the brain while it is working. The technique measures changes in blood flow all over the brain. In this way, the fMRI scan allows us to see what areas of the brain are activated during a specific activity. For example, by having people perform simple tasks during the scan (such as moving digits or limbs) we can see which part of the brain controls those tasks.
At Boston Children's Hospital, fMR scans are used to provide additional information used for treatment planning for neurological disorders such as epilepsy, brain tumors, brain injury, mental retardation, autism, and learning disabilities. Read here about the fMR simulator that prepares kids for research studies. The hospital's Dream magazine also looks at fMR (Dream Magazine Research Edition, 2005).