Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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Berkeley's 4T fMRI scanner.

Scientists use Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to deduce how the brain operates. Haemoglobin is an iron-containing protein in the blood. Because oxygenated haemoglobin and deoxygenated haemoglobin have different magnetic properties, they look very different in this type of scan. Using this method, scientists can therefore see when and where there is increased blood flow to different parts of the brain. Most scientists believe this increased blood flow is a sign of increased brain activity. The debate about what this means is just one of the interesting aspects of fMRI.