Functional and Pharmacological MRI in Understanding Brain Function at a Systems Level

Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 7)


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods have been extensively applied to study the human brain and its functional organization in healthy and disease states. A strong rationale exists for the extension of this approach to animal models as a translational tool to bridge clinical and preclinical research. Specifically, the development of pharmacological MRI (phMRI), i.e., the use of fMRI to map spatiotemporal patterns of brain activity induced by pharmacological agents, has provided a robust and flexible tool to resolve brain circuits and mechanism-specific functional changes produced by selective intervention in different neurotransmitter systems in vivo. This chapter describes the methodological aspects of fMRI and phMRI in preclinical species, and some of the key findings, with a special emphasis on the translational potential of these methods in neuropharmacological research.


Brain circuits Complex networks fMRI Functional connectivity Pharmacological MRI phMRI 





Nucleus accumbens


Blood oxygen level dependent


Cerebral blood flow


Cerebral blood volume


Corticotropin-releasing factor






Functional magnetic resonance imaging


γ-Aminobutyric acid


Glycine transporter type-I


1-(m-Chlorophenyl) piperazine




Medial prefrontal cortex


Magnetic resonance imaging


Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor


Neurokinin 1 (NK1)


N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor




Positron emitting tomography


Pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging


Relative cerebral blood volume


Ventral tegmental area


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Nanotechnology Innovation, Italian Institute of Technology, IIT@NESTPisaItaly

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