BOLD fMRI: An update with emphasis on pediatric applications
© Cambridge University Press 2009.Introduction It has been just over a decade since contemporary neuroimaging tools, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), were first applied to developmental questions. These tools provide invaluable information on how brain anatomy, function, and connectivity change during development. Applications of this methodology to pediatric populations have helped to establish developmental trajectories in typically developing individuals, providing insight on delays and differences in brain development in atypical pediatric populations. This chapter highlights the use of this technique and its challenges when studying pediatric populations and is organized into three sections. First we provide an overview of the basic principles and methodology of fMRI. Secondly, we discuss its application to pediatric populations, including the potential challenges inherent to such studies and recommendations for addressing them in experimental design and analysis. In the last section, we describe advances in the field that may be applied to significantly enhance the study of pediatric brain development. Principles and methodology of functional magnetic resonance imaging Principles of magnetic resonance imaging Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses strong magnetic fields to create images of biological tissues, taking advantage of the magnetic resonance properties of hydrogen molecules present in the human body. Thus, when an individual lies with his/her head in the MRI scanner, the spin-axes of the hydrogen nuclei in the brain line up parallel to the magnetic field. At specified time points, a radiofrequency (RF) pulse is broadcast which causes the axes of the nuclei to tilt by a certain angle with respect to the main magnetic field. However, only those nuclei which “resonate” at the RF pulse frequency will be affected.
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