Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Twenty years of fMRI

Functional magnetic resonance imaging, better known as fMRI, is 20 years old this week. October’s NeuroPod marks the celebrations by looking back at the brain scanning technology, it’s successes, and its troublesome teenage years.

The imaging technique was first announced in a 1991 study published in Science that announced how a standard MRI scanner could be used to used to track where oxygenated and deoxygenated blood flowed in the brain.

The technique takes advantage of the fact that haemoglobin, the iron containing protein that carries oxygen to essential tissues in the body, is differently magnetic when it is carrying oxygen, in comparison to when it is oxygen depleted.