Called the Functional MRI, the system produces three-dimensional images of a patient’s brain that show not only the physical structure of the brain but also detect neurological activity and illustrate which portions of the brain control specific activities. fMRI has been used in research for sometime, but it’s just now being rolled out in real-time medical practice. The fMRI unit in Columbia is the state’s first. As a person being imaged moves, talks, or listens, the areas of the brain responsible for those actions light up in the image. Knowing exactly where those areas are — they differ just a little from person to person — will make brain surgeries more accurate and the outcome more predictable.
A new type of MRI unit has been installed at University Hospital in Columbia: