J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 75:6-12
  • Review: neuroscience for neurologists

Functional magnetic resonance imaging

  1. P M Matthews,
  2. P Jezzard
  1. Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, Department of Clinical Neurology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor P M Matthews
 Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK;
  • Received 14 May 2003
  • Accepted 20 August 2003
  • Revised 14 August 2003


Blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a powerful approach to defining activity in the healthy and diseased human brain. BOLD fMRI detects local increases in relative blood oxygenation that are most probably a direct consequence of neurotransmitter action and thus reflect local neuronal signalling. The method allows localisation to volumes of the order of a few to several cubic millimetres and can be used in serial studies of individual subjects. Basic approaches to experimental design and analysis are reviewed briefly, as well as potential clinical applications. The latter include three broad areas: anatomical characterisation of normal or pathological patterns of brain functioning; distinguishing pathological traits; and monitoring treatment responses. New research is emphasising the integration of fMRI with other techniques, particularly electrophysiological. In conjunction with MRI methods for characterising pathological load, fMRI promises a refined understanding of when disease processes begin and how they can be modified by new treatments.


  • Competing interests: none declared

Visit the full archive of podcasts for JNNP here >>

Free sample
This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of JNNP.
View free sample issue >>

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.

Navigate This Article