Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Essay

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Imagine that you have some rare disease, you have suddenly lost some of your fine motor control, you sometimes have bouts of unintentional movement, and you feel that you are not in control of your own body at times. You have no idea what is going on, your family is stunned, and the doctors are stumped. No one seems to have a firm understanding of how or why these things are happening to you. Your doctors recommend that you undergo a relatively new procedure called fMRI. This test indicates that you have an operable tumor pressing against your cerebellum. After a long, arduous, and successful surgery you are finally back to normal and can lead a normal life once again. While this may be a bit of an extreme example, it highlights one …show more content…

There are a few alternatives to using fMRI such as positron emission technology (PET), but fMRI holds many advantages over PET as fMRI does not require radioactive injections, its total scan time is usually very short, and it is suitable to assist in a neurosurgical treatment plan for specific individuals (Columbia University, 2010). In the past few years the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging has exploded and it has really over-flooded the market in terms of its applicability. There are a multitude of companies that are really pushing this technology for many different uses such as replacing the polygraph, using it to make life support withdrawal decisions, and even as a form of risk reduction for dating (Stix, 2008). This all sounds good in theory but the downside is that these companies are pushing fMRI technology for all these different uses without having a significant research performed to back up such hare-brained claims. One of the many weaknesses of why fMRI should not be used in such cases is that the technology itself could be influencing its own results one way or the other. For starters magnetic resonance imaging uses distinct pulses of radio waves along with a very strong, rotating magnetic field, which may strongly interfere with the nearby circuitry required to process the signals seen to begin with an fMRI scan. The actual scan itself could be skewing the data obtained (Collins, 2001). The origin of fMRI signal and the meaning of

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