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J Neuroophthalmol. 1999 Sep;19(3):186-200.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging in the visual system.

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Department of Neuro-ophthalmology, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a relatively new technique for measuring brain function during resting and activated conditions with good spatial and temporal resolution. Because of a robust and reproducible activation response to visual stimuli in the occipital cortex, many studies have been directed at visual function. The methodology has been refined progressively to allow more accurate detection of the small activation signal, and using computational mapping foci of cerebral activity have been displayed in a two-dimensional format. Several factors modifying the activation signal have been identified. fMRI has been used to define the retinotopic representation of areal boundaries and the localization of higher visual functions in the occipital cortex. Motion perception in area middle temporal (MT) is well-recognized, but eye movement studies are limited. The activated signal may have significant implications for our understanding of brain metabolism, but cerebral blood flow and oxygenation sensitive recordings after prolonged visual stimulation have given conflicting results. Clinically, fMRI can follow changes in cerebral activity during a progressive neurologic illness and measure responses to treatment. Neurosurgical planning in disorders such as epilepsy may be facilitated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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