Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

Children’s uses many different imaging tests to uphold the mission of providing excellent patient care. One of those tests is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Using a strong magnetic field, the fMRI takes real-time photos of the brain’s activity. While being scanned, patients will be asked to perform simple tasks, such as reading, thinking or just moving a body part.

Why is an fMRI used?

  • Checks both brain structure and function
  • Helps doctors learn the where areas of brain function are located
    • Measures areas of language, visual, motor and exectutive functioning
  • Used for patients with epilepsy, brain masses or arteriovenous malformations who may need surgery
  • Measures areas of language, visual, motor and exectutive functioning

    - Watch fMRI testing

    - Download a print-friendly fact sheet on fMRI


The fMRI scan is generally safe and can last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. The length of the test depends on the condition being tested.

The patient lies on a platform that is placed inside the opening, which is about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide. While inside the fMRI, a large magnet will pass over the patient, taking snapshots of the brain.

About the fMRI scan:

  • The fMRI does not use X-rays, so the patient will not be exposed to any radiation.
  • To eliminate anxiety, a neuropsychologist meets with every patient to explain the fMRI and play an audio tape of a scan.
  • Depending on the condition being tested, the patient can watch a video or listen to head phones while being scanned.

Our pediatric-trained staff will be with the patient at all times to help with any patient needs during the procedure.