What Is Brain Imaging (Neuroimaging)?

Neuroimaging, also known as neuro scanning or brain imaging, refers to several methods of visualizing the inner workings of the brain by producing two- or three-dimensional images of the brain.

Neuroimaging techniques vary depending on your doctor’s needs and what you are being screened for, but they generally fall into two categories: invasive and non-invasive.

1. What Is Electroencephalogram (EEG)?

An electroencephalogram, or EEG, is a test that measures electrical activity in your brain. It’s used to diagnose epilepsy and other neurological disorders [1].

Doctors place electrodes on your scalp to measure electrical activity in different parts of your brain. The electrodes are connected to wires that plug into a machine, which records and displays your brain waves on a monitor.

An EEG can help detect abnormal patterns in brain wave activity, which may indicate a seizure disorder or other condition.

You may need an EEG if you have: Epileptic seizures that are caused by sudden bursts of electrical activity in parts of your brain. They can cause changes in mood, behavior, awareness, movement, and sensation.

2. What Is Cerebral Angiography?

Cerebral angiography is a diagnostic procedure that uses X-rays and a special dye to provide detailed images of blood vessels in and around your brain. The procedure is also called an arteriogram, cerebral arteriogram, or arterial phase imaging [2].

During cerebral angiography, you lie on a table while X-ray images are taken of your head. Then, a contrast material is injected into your bloodstream through an artery in your leg or arm.

The contrast material flows through blood vessels in your brain and provides images that can be used to detect blockages or other abnormalities in blood vessels supplying your brain.

3. What CT (Computerized Tomography)?

Computerized Tomography, or CT, is a type of non-invasive neuroimaging that allows doctors to examine your brain and detect any abnormalities. CT scans use X-rays to create cross-sectional images of your brain, allowing doctors to view it from different angles [3].

The technology can be used to detect tumors, stroke damage, and other abnormalities. It’s important to note that CT scans do expose you to radiation, but it’s typically a small amount and shouldn’t cause you any health problems.

If you have an implanted medical device like a pacemaker or metal in your body, however, you should tell your doctor before getting a CT scan.

4. What Is PET (Positron Emission Technology)?

Positron Emission Technology is a type of non-invasive brain imaging that is used to see how well different parts of your brain are working [4].

It uses a radioactive substance such as glucose, which is injected into your bloodstream. The glucose is taken up by cells in your body and concentrated in areas that are active at any given time.

A special camera then detects radioactivity from within your body and creates pictures based on these images. These pictures can be used to detect abnormalities in certain areas of your brain.

5. What Is MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a non-invasive medical test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of your internal organs and tissues [5].

MRI machines use strong magnetic fields to align water molecules in your body so they can be seen on an image. The machine sends radio wave pulses through your body, causing these aligned water molecules to rotate back and forth.

The machine detects these changes as peaks and valleys on a computer screen. These changes are used to construct two-dimensional images of your internal organs, which can then be combined into three-dimensional pictures.

MRI scans are painless and do not involve any radiation exposure or injections. An MRI scan may take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on what area of your body is being scanned.

6. What Is SPECT (Single Positron Emission Computed Tomography)?

Single Positron Emission Computed Tomography, or SPECT, is a non-invasive neuroimaging technique that uses positron-emitting radionuclides to image brain function [6].

The most common isotope used for SPECT imaging is fluorine-18, which emits positrons when it decays.

A typical SPECT scan involves injecting patients with a mildly radioactive tracer that concentrates in blood flow areas of active brain cells.

These tracers are tagged with a positron-emitting isotope such as fluorine-18 or oxygen-15. A gamma camera then detects these emissions and creates an image of active regions in your brain.

This helps doctors see how your brain works and can help diagnose diseases like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.

7. What Is Magnetoencephalogram (MEG)?

Magnetoencephalogram is a technique that uses magnetic fields to record electrical activity in different parts of your brain. It’s called an electrical recording because it measures changes in electrical current between neurons [7].

MEG is non-invasive, meaning there are no needles or other instruments used to record activity. Instead, a special helmet containing hundreds of sensors picks up magnetic fields produced by electrical currents in your brain.

The helmet is placed on your head, and you sit still for about 30 minutes while researchers collect data.

In some cases, MEG may be used with functional MRI (fMRI) to look at how specific areas of your brain respond during a task or when exposed to certain stimuli.

8. What Is fNIRS (Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy)?

Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a non-invasive brain imaging technique that uses light to measure changes in blood flow [8].

fNIRS can be used to measure brain activity during a wide range of tasks, including problem-solving, decision making, and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

fNIRS measures changes in oxygenated hemoglobin (oxy-Hb), deoxygenated hemoglobin (deoxy-Hb), and total hemoglobin (tot-Hb).

These measurements are then converted into concentrations of oxy-, deoxy-, and total hemoglobin. The ratio of oxy-Hb to tot-Hb gives an indication of how much oxygen is being used by your brain at any given time.

9. What Is Voxel-Based Morphometry (VBM)?

Voxel-Based Morphometry (VBM) is a neuroimaging technique used to examine brain structure. It is based on MRI and looks at differences in tissue density, giving researchers an idea of how certain areas of our brains are functioning [9].

VBM can be used to compare healthy individuals with those who have conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia.

It can also be used to look at changes in a single individual over time, allowing researchers to see how their brain is changing over time due to aging or other factors.

While some people may be familiar with CT scans and MRIs, VBM is less well known, but it’s an important tool for understanding what’s going on inside our heads!

10. What Is Event-Related Optical Signal (EROS)?

Event-Related Optical Signal (EROS) is a relatively new and non-invasive technology that uses optical imaging to measure brain activity [10].

The EROS system uses an infrared laser to illuminate blood flow in different parts of your brain, which are then captured by a digital camera.

By looking at how light is absorbed and reflected by your brain, researchers can determine which areas of your brain are active when you perform various tasks.

For example, if you’re asked to remember something or make a decision, scientists can see exactly what parts of your brain are involved in those processes.

This technique allows researchers to gather information about how different parts of your brain work together during certain activities.

11. What Is Diffusion MRI (dMRI)?

Diffusion MRI (dMRI) is a type of MRI that measures how water molecules move inside your brain. It can tell you whether there are any problems with your white matter, which is made up of nerve fibers that connect different parts of your brain [11].

dMRI can also show you whether there are any problems with your cerebrospinal fluid, which cushions and protects your brain.

The most common type of dMRI is called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). DTI can be used to look at changes in specific areas of your brain over time or after an injury.

This type of scan may help doctors diagnose some diseases and disorders. For example, DTI may be used to see if someone has multiple sclerosis or a stroke.

12. What Is CUBIC (Clear Unobstructed Brain Imaging Cocktails)?

CUBIC (Clear Unobstructed Brain Imaging Cocktails) is a new imaging technique that combines many brain-imaging methods into one, making it easier to diagnose diseases of the nervous system [12].

The method is based on a cocktail of several different contrast agents, each injected into an arm vein. When these agents reach and enter areas of disease in or around blood vessels, they cause those areas to show up clearly on images taken by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

In fact, CUBIC can be used as an alternative to CT angiography and cerebral angiography—two other types of brain imaging—when those procedures are not possible or would be too risky.

It is also useful for showing how well treatments are working in patients with diseases affecting blood vessels in or around their brains.

13. What Is Nanoscale Neuroimaging?

Nanoscale Neuroimaging is a relatively new field of study that is being used to better understand how nerves and neurons work at a cellular level [13].

This includes imaging nerves and brain activity on a cellular level, as well as developing methods for more effectively treating neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

As it turns out, nanotechnology can be used to diagnose disease and develop treatments in an incredibly precise way that allows doctors to see things they couldn’t before.

For example, CT (Computerized Tomography) scans are often used to view organs and bones inside of our bodies, but doctors have also developed new ways of using CT scans for viewing brain activity at a very small scale.

Cerebral angiography is another way of viewing blood flow in our brains with great precision.

14. What Is Pneumoencephalography?

Pneumoencephalography is a type of brain imaging that uses air to create a three-dimensional image of your brain [14].

It is used most often to detect tumors or other abnormalities in your brain, but it can also be used to diagnose hydrocephalus, which is when there is too much cerebrospinal fluid in your skull.

A pneumoencephalography may be performed using either CT or cerebral angiography. Both procedures are safe and effective and can help you get an accurate diagnosis for any abnormalities you might have.


In conclusion, neuroimaging has revolutionized the way that scientists study the brain. It has allowed researchers to observe the brain in action and to identify the areas responsible for different functions. Neuroimaging is also being used to help diagnose and treat brain disorders.

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