What does it tell us?

Since functional MRI scans identify clearly and specifically
which areas of the brain are involved in movements, such as
moving a hand, a wrist, leg, or tongue and lips, ƒMRI is
important for patients who are about to have brain surgery.
ƒMRI scans help to determine in advance each critical brain
area for neurosurgical planning. The neurosurgeon might use
these results to help guide planning the surgery. ƒMRI scans
tell us which areas of the brain are functional: that is, which areas are controlling some important brain act, such as remembering, listening, talking, or moving, and preserving these functions increases the patient's chances for a normal life.

However, observing these functions requires great precision. Observing differences in blood flow between active areas and less active areas requires "seeing" very small changes (1- 4%). These small differences require that we use statistical analyses of these images to produce reliable results. The large number of images acquired during each session (500-1200 images) necessitates significant effort, manpower, hardware, software, as well as digital storage, to process and analyze these results. These tasks demand image co-registration, mathematical correction for motion and other potential artifactual errors, and require state-of-the-art knowledge to produce reliable and valid results.

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