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Eur J Radiol. 2003 Nov;48(2):138-45.

High field functional MRI.

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Department of Neurological Sciences, University Federico II of Naples, via Pansini 5, 80131 Naples, Italy.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has become the most widely used approach for studying brain functions in humans. The rapid and widespread diffusion of fMRI has been favoured by the properties this technique presents, and particularly by its sensitivity in analysing brain functional phenomena and by the lack of biological invasiveness, resulting in an unprecedented and unparalleled flexibility of use. These properties of fMRI brought the functional examination of the brain within the reach of the whole neuroscience community and have appreciably stimulated the research on the functional processes of the living brain. Among the main features of fMRI, its spatial and temporal resolution represents clear advantages compared with the other methods of functional neuroimaging. In fact, the high spatial resolution of fMRI permits to produce more precise and better localised information, and its temporal resolution provides the potential of a better understanding of neural dynamics at the level of single functional areas and of the neural constituents of functional patterns. A fundamental possibility of improving spatial and temporal resolution without excessively degrading signal-to-noise ratio consists in the use of high magnetic field intensity fMRI units. Besides, high field units make the use of more demanding fMRI paradigms, like single trial event related studies, much more compatible with the need of a solid statistical evaluation. This has notably promoted the diffusion of high field MRI units for human studies throughout the world, with very high field MRI units, up to 8 T, working in a few research centres, and a larger number of MRI units with field intensity ranging between 3 and 5 T.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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