Oxford scientists develop new fMRI software

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Scientists at Oxford University have released the latest version of FSL software, version 4.0, which uses multiple functional MRI (fMRI) snapshots to track brain activation, produce high-resolution images of brain structure in fine detail, and map the brain’s connectivity patterns. The application allows clinicians and researchers to analyze images of the brain and improve treatment of conditions including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, epilespy and Parkinson’s.

The new software technology gives you a ‘color-blob’ image of brain activity,” said Stephen Smith, professor of biomedical engineering at Oxford. 

“It shows which parts of the brain light up as you give sensory stimulation or cognitive tasks to the patient,” Smith said. “We work daily with experts in anatomy and physiology who apply our software in their research on understanding the brain’s function, structure and pathologies.”

FSL 4.0 also provides a way to measure how the brain changes over time, a capability used for evaluating the effectiveness of a drug in patients, Smith noted.

Earlier versions of FSL, developed at Oxford’s fMRI of the Brain Center, are commercially licensed through Isis Innovation, Oxford University’s technology transfer company.