Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, makes it possible to see specific parts of the brain. The fMRI scanner create images of areas that are responsible for movement, language, memory and other functions. The test identifies these regions by detecting changes in blood flow and oxygen levels as you answer questions and perform simple tasks. The technician may ask you to tap your thumb against each finger on the same hand, for example.
Your doctor may recommend fMRI before brain surgery, to map different regions of the brain. The exam typically takes 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. You may need to drink a solution that helps produce clear images, or you may take the contrast liquid intravenously, through an IV needle.
A radiologist will review your scans and send a report to your doctor, who can discuss the results with you and plan the next steps in your care.