Although many people are familiar with MRIs and their diagnostic properties, very few people have heard of fMRIs, or functional magnetic resonance imaging. While the two tests have a great deal in common, MRIs are used to image the structure of the brain, while fMRIs are used to provide a visual representation of activity within the brain. As our top Chicago brain injury lawyers explain, fMRI images show, in vivid color, the areas of the brain that are active when the scan is taken.
The photograph here is an example of an fMRI study.
fMRIs do have limitations in carrying out this task, however. It does not provide extensive detail, such as a cell-by-cell analysis: instead, it breaks the brain down into “voxels,” each representing a cube of brain tissue containing upwards of a million brain cells. These voxels thus provide a window into the areas of the brain active at a particular time or during a particular task. The test also cannot keep up with the rapid-fire changes in the brain, instead providing a general sense of brain activity.
Despite its limitations, fMRI technology is helping to fuel a number of scientific advances. fMRI is helping researchers learn to diagnose and treat learning disabilities, understand the was the brain reacts to words and images, and decode was an individual is seeing purely by imaging his brain.
It is the hope of the brain injury attorneys of Passen & Powell that this technology can eventually be used to understand why some victims suffer different effects from others, and to help victims to overcome or even avoid the problems peculiar to their injuries. In the meantime, however, fMRIs remain an intriguing tool for furthering our understanding of the human brain and its various functions.