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Advances in Spinal Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Healthy and Injured Spinal Cords


Purpose of Review

This review provides an overview of the current spinal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies that investigate the healthy and injured spinal cords.

Recent Findings

Spinal fMRI-derived outcome measures have previously been suggested to be sensitive to changes in neurological function in the spinal cord. A body of recent task-activated fMRI studies seems to confirm that detecting neural activity in the spinal cord using spinal fMRI may be feasible as well as reliable. Furthermore, a growing number of studies have shown that resting state fMRI in the spinal cord is also feasible, demonstrating that the investigation of changes in neural activity can also be performed in the absence of explicit tasks.


Current task-activated and resting state fMRI studies suggest that spinal fMRI has a strong potential to provide novel imaging biomarkers that can be used to investigate plastic changes in the injured spinal cord.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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This work was supported in part by a grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation (338419).

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Correspondence to Ann S. Choe.

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Ann S. Choe declares no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the author.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

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Choe, A.S. Advances in Spinal Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Healthy and Injured Spinal Cords. Curr Phys Med Rehabil Rep 5, 143–150 (2017).

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  • Spinal fMRI
  • Task-activated fMRI
  • Resting state fMRI
  • Spinal cord injury