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Functional neuroimaging is a technology that has revolutionized the examination of cognitive brain function. It allows scientists to probe the brain to determine the relationship between activities in various regions. Neuroimaging provides insight into neural networks and how the brain responds to damage. It is useful in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, social neuroscience, and neuropsychology.
This article will take a closer look at functional neuroimaging to determine how it can improve mental health.
What is Neuroimaging / Brain Imaging?
There are several types of neuroimaging including the following: 1
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)
Positron emission tomography (PET)
Functional ultrasound imaging (fUS)
Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)
Each type measures neural activity differently. For instance, fMRI, fNIRS, fUS, and PET measures changes in the body’s cerebral blood flow to determine which brain regions are activated when a person is required to perform a specific task.
Other methods of neuroimaging, like EEG and MEG, use electric currents or magnetic fields to record brain activity. However, these types are limited in their ability to localize activities to specific areas of the brain.
Structural and Functional Neuroimaging
Neuroimaging can be further broken down into structural and functional neuroimaging.
Structural neuroimaging focuses on the structure of the brain when determining differences in the various tissues.
Functional neuroimaging measures cognitive brain function to determine the relationship between certain areas of the brain and mental functions.
What is an MRI?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This medical technique uses magnets, radio waves, and other technologies to take a picture of the patient’s body which can then be used for diagnostic purposes. It can also determine how the individual is responding to treatments. MRIs are especially effective in examining the nervous system and soft tissues.2
An MRI is preferable to an x-ray because it does not emit dangerous radiation. It can be used to find and diagnose the following health conditions:
Spinal cord injuries
Damaged blood vessels
Inner ear problems
… and the list goes on.
What is an fMRI?
fMRI stands for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging.2 It is like an MRI but for the brain. An fMRI is used to determine how a healthy brain works and how it responds to damage. It does this by measuring changes in blood flow that occur with various brain activities.
During an fMRI, a patient may be asked to perform a specific task such as looking at a picture or snapping their fingers. The system reviews the functions in different parts of the brain and how they react to the activity.
An fMRI may be used to detect abnormalities. They can also evaluate neurological dysfunction and damage that may result from a stroke or another type of health issue. They can map a person’s brain before they go into surgery. Some researchers believe that in time, they may also be used to predict how a person is thinking or feeling.
Advantages of an fMRI
fMRIs have come a long way in helping researchers better understand cognitive brain functions, and this technology has been useful in the diagnosis of brain disease and the reduction of neurological dysfunction. Here are some other benefits an fMRI offers:
An fMRI is a non-invasive, drug-free treatment that does not require surgery. Surgery often leads to long recovery times and costly medical bills, but fMRIs avoid such issues.
Unlike x-rays, an fMRI does not produce harmful radiation. There is virtually no risk associated with the process.
The images produced by an fMRI are of exceptional quality and resolution, therefore making it easy for researchers to determine medical issues.
Objective Psychological Evaluation
As compared with traditional psychological questionnaires, an fMRI provides a more objective view, allowing for clearer insight into mental health conditions.
How Can Neuroimaging Help in Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that offers real-time feedback of brain activity to enforce healthy neurological function. The feedback is typically collected via an EEG which involves placing sensors on the patient’s scalp to produce video displays and sounds that reflect brain activity.3
Neuroimaging and neurofeedback can work together to diagnose and treat medical issues. While the imaging takes pictures of brain activity, biofeedback determines neurological functions through a series of sounds and displays. When combined, the two technologies provide a complete picture of what is going on in the patient’s brain.
What is Neurofeedback Therapy?
Neurofeedback therapy is the use of EEG or QEEG.4 It measures brain waves and retrains the body’s processes. Essentially, neurofeedback therapy asks the patient to copy brain waves produced in normal neurological function to enforce healthier behaviors and coping mechanisms as well as produce optimal brain performance.
Who Would Benefit from Neuroimaging?
Neuroimaging is an effective treatment for patients dealing with a variety of mental health and cognitive issues including the following:
- Patients with possible brain tumors
- Stroke recovery patients
- People with anxiety, depression, and PTSD
- People with autism
- People with ADHD
- People with bipolar disorders
- People who suffer from migraines
- People struggling with addiction
- Athletes looking to optimize for peak performance
Why Choose J. Flowers Health Institute for Neuroimaging?
The J. Flowers Health Institute facility offers diagnostic evaluations for mental health, wellness, and substance use disorders. We believe that a diagnosis is the first step in determining the root of mental health issues. We follow up with a variety of programs including detox, therapies to increase wellness and restoration, and continuing care. We also offer specialized services for young adults or busy executives.
We use a variety of techniques for evaluation, but neuroimaging has shown to be among our most effective. It integrates our neuropsychological testing and brain mapping process. In addition to extensive testing, we use MRIs, fMRI’s, and EEGs to focus on brain activity and get to the root of the problem. We provide imaging to replicate healthy brain function so that our clients attain improved tools for coping.
In addition to our top-notch medical care, we also provide luxury accommodations and an unparalleled guest experience.
Anxiety, addiction, and other mental health issues are detrimental to the quality of life. J. Flowers offers neuroimaging and other proven techniques that will allow you to move on and become a healthier, happier you. Contact us to find out how we can help you achieve a higher state of wellbeing.