Watching Dance: Kinesthetic Empathy

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

Functional MRI is a recently developed state-of-the-art brain imaging technique that works on the principle of the ‘BOLD (blood-oxygen-level dependent) effect’ to measure local magnetic changes caused by increases in blood oxygenation that accompany neuronal activity.

Active nerve cells consume oxygen, and the local response to this is an increase in blood flow to areas of neural activity which occurs after a delay of about 3-5 seconds.  This affects the temporal resolution of the image but results in representations of cerebral activity with an exceptionally high spatial resolution of within a few millimetres. 

fMRI is a non-invasive practice that has rapidly become one of the most extensively used techniques in neuroimaging due to its ability to yield  statistically robust maps of cerebral activity in single subject after a one hour session. This enables accuracy in comparisons between individuals’ neural responses to stimuli to an extent that was not possible before.

In preparation for fMRI scanning the subject is equipped with MRI-compatible sound transmitters and goggles, which allow us to deliver high quality images to both eyes.

Subjects are simply put into the scanner which allows the detection of slight changes in local magnetic fields using an appropriate MR (magnetic resonance) pulse sequence. There are no known side-effects associated with this technique.