Changes in brain tissue activity in response to stimuli, such as by a compound or sensory stimulus, can be quantitatively measured with MRI-based applications to provide evidence of neuronal engagement. Neurovascular activity and coupling (hemodynamic response to metabolic activity) may be detected utilizing blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) effect in functional MRI (fMRI) studies. Fast imaging sequences detect well-localized activations (e.g., at somatosensory cortex after forepaw stimulation). Cerebral activity following drug administration and CNS adaptation to medication may be detected using BOLD paradigm or relative cerebral blood volume (rCBV) via contrast enhancement methods, such as superparamagnetic iron oxide MION for MRI-based activity measurement. Results provide insight into brain physiology and neuropharmacological mechanisms.
Pharmacological MRI (phMRI) is a technique that allows researchers to noninvasively map brain function in response to the hemodynamic changes brought on by the introduction of pharmaceutical stimuli. Analogous to fMRI but employing pharmacological methods of simulation, phMRI maps the time course and neurological response to specific pharmacological stimuli and gives insight into the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of drugs aimed at neurological, psychiatric and neuromuscular diseases.
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