Applications of fMRI to Psychiatry

  • Melissa Lopez-Larson
  • Deborah A. Yurgelun-Todd


The application of functional neuroimaging to characterize cortical dysfunction in patients with psychiatric disorders provides one of the most exciting in vivo techniques for the identification of both pathophysiologic factors and treatment effects. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) refers to a noninvasive method to assess cortical activation by measuring changes in oxidation and regional blood flow. The most frequently used fMRI paradigms involve primary sensory stimulation, including visual stimulation and motor sequencing, and affective and cognitive paradigms. Functional brain imaging studies have historically been limited both by the need to use radioactive tracers and by poor temporal resolution. Developments in the area of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may largely surmount these limitations. First, the development of high-speed, echo-planar imaging devices has greatly enhanced the temporal resolution of MRI. With echo-planar imaging, single image planes can be acquired in 50–100 ms or multiple image planes can be acquired each second. Studies, which may be performed with or without a high-speed MR scanner, selectively detect image parameters that are proportional to cerebral blood flow (CBF) or blood volume (CBV). This strategy capitalizes on the fact that in general, focal changes in neuronal activity are coupled closely to changes in CBF and CBV.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Bipolar Disorder Borderline Personality Disorder Anterior Cingulate Cortex Work Memory Task 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa Lopez-Larson
    • 1
  • Deborah A. Yurgelun-Todd
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, The Brain InstituteUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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