Applications of real-time fMRI

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Sep;9(9):720-9. doi: 10.1038/nrn2414.


For centuries people have aspired to understand and control the functions of the mind and brain. It has now become possible to image the functioning of the human brain in real time using functional MRI (fMRI), and thereby to access both sides of the mind-brain interface--subjective experience (that is, one's mind) and objective observations (that is, external, quantitative measurements of one's brain activity)--simultaneously. Developments in neuroimaging are now being translated into many new potential practical applications, including the reading of brain states, brain-computer interfaces, communicating with locked-in patients, lie detection, and learning control over brain activation to modulate cognition or even treat disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Psychophysiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Oxygen