Seminars in Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 11(6): 479-88, December 2006
In order to provide accurate prognosis and developmental intervention to newborns, new methods of assessing cerebral functions are needed. The non-invasive technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can be considered as the leading technique for functional exploration of the infant’s brain. Several studies have previously applied fMRI in both healthy and diseased newborns with different sensory and cognitive tasks. In this chapter, the methodological issues that are proper to the use of fMRI in the newborn are detailed. In addition, an overview of the major findings of previous fMRI studies is provided, with a focus on notable differences from those in adult subjects. More specifically, the functional responses and the localization of cortical activations in healthy and diseased newborns are discussed. We expect a rapid expansion of this field and the establishment of fMRI as a valid clinical diagnostic tool in the newborn.