Functional mapping technology

Published On 08/08/2014

Functional brain imaging is used to record sensory, motor and cognitive functions happening in a patient’s brain. The goal is to identify areas of abnormal activity and the areas responsible for specific normal functions. When functional imaging is combined with the structural images from MRI and CT, neurologists and neurosurgeons have a map to guide treatment plans.

Magnetoencephalography (MEG)

What: Records neuronal responses based on the magnetic fields that are produced when groups of brain cells become active

Insight: Used to localize the origin of magnetic fields and identify areas of the brain that are active during movement, sensation and the production and perception of speech

Functional MRI (fMRI)

What: Identifies areas of brain activity by detecting blood flow alterations related to increased oxygen extraction from functioning cortex

Insight: Shows areas of the brain that control complex language functions (verb generation, sentence completion and picture naming) or motor tasks (hand, foot or facial movement). In conjunction with DTI, it is possible to map the nerve bundles that send information throughout the body.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

What: Imparts magnetic fields that penetrate the skull painlessly to stimulate areas of the brain, using a coil that is placed near the scalp in a form of noninvasive cortical stimulation. Navigated TMS uses an MRI of the patient’s brain to move about the skull – much like a GPS system helps a person navigate a car.

Insight: Allows clinical neuroscientists to connect brain activation and the responses that follow for motor and language areas