Copyright ©The Author(s) 2017. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Radiol. Jan 28, 2017; 9(1): 5-9
Published online Jan 28, 2017. doi: 10.4329/wjr.v9.i1.5
Functional magnetic resonance imaging and the brain: A brief review
Maggie S M Chow, Sharon L Wu, Sarah E Webb, Katie Gluskin, D T Yew
Maggie S M Chow, Sharon L Wu, D T Yew, School of Biomedical Science, School of Chinese Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Sarah E Webb, Division of Life Science, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China
Katie Gluskin, Department of Neuroscience, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St Marys City, MD 20686, United States
Author contributions: Chow MSM, Wu SL, Webb SE and Gluskin K wrote the paper; Yew DT directed the research.
Conflict-of-interest statement: Authors declare no conflict of interest for this article.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Dr. Maggie S M Chow, School of Biomedical Science, School of Chinese Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
Telephone: +852-39434140
Received: June 16, 2016
Peer-review started: June 24, 2016
First decision: August 16, 2016
Revised: September 6, 2016
Accepted: October 22, 2016
Article in press: October 24, 2016
Published online: January 28, 2017

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is employed in many behavior analysis studies, with blood oxygen level dependent- (BOLD-) contrast imaging being the main method used to generate images. The use of BOLD-contrast imaging in fMRI has been refined over the years, for example, the inclusion of a spin echo pulse and increased magnetic strength were shown to produce better recorded images. Taking careful precautions to control variables during measurement, comparisons between different specimen groups can be illustrated by fMRI imaging using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Differences have been observed in comparisons of active and resting, developing and aging, and defective and damaged brains in various studies. However, cognitive studies using fMRI still face a number of challenges in interpretation that can only be overcome by imaging large numbers of samples. Furthermore, fMRI studies of brain cancer, lesions and other brain pathologies of both humans and animals are still to be explored.

Keywords: Functional magnetic resonance image, Blood oxygen level dependent imaging, Humans, Pig and rodent models, Aging, Drug effects, Brain lesions and disease

Core tip: We summarize the use of blood oxygen level dependent-contrast imaging in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) by introducing and comparing the various experimental and analysis methods used, as well as describing the results obtained, and the challenges that might occur in order to derive a hypothesis for further studies and exploration. In addition, an overview of fMRI following sensory stimulation in different specimen groups in both humans and animals is provided.