Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles

Neurology Specialists located in Santa Monica, CA

Neuroimaging to visualize the structure and function of your brain is essential for making an accurate diagnosis and creating a personalized treatment. Edward J. O’Connor, MD, FAAN, and Russ Shimizu, MD, at Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles offer functional MRIs, the most advanced neuroimaging for assessing neurological disorders. When you need an expert diagnosis of a brain or spine condition, call the office in Santa Monica, California, or book an appointment online.

Neuroimaging Q & A

What is neuroimaging?

Neuroimaging refers to producing an image of your brain without needing to undergo surgery. With today’s technology, neuroimaging allows the doctors at Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles to assess brain function and reach an accurate diagnosis.

Common neuroimaging techniques include:


Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to create images of the structures inside your body, including your brain.

Computerized axial tomography (CAT)

This scan uses X-rays placed at different angles to create a cross-sectional image of the brain.

Positron emission tomography (PET)

With this imaging test, radioactively labeled molecules (tracers) are injected into your bloodstream. The tracers show blood flow and metabolic activity in the brain, which can be used to see biochemical changes.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

MRI scans use a magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of organs, soft tissues, and blood flow inside your body. MRIs are preferred to CAT scans for neurovascular imaging because they produce better images of nerves in your brain and spinal cord.

What is functional magnetic resonance imaging?

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is similar to an MRI, but an MRI shows brain anatomy, while a fMRI reveals brain function.

With a fMRI brain scan, your doctor at Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles can see changes in your brain’s oxygen levels as you perform a task. Changes in oxygen represent the level of nerve activity, so they can detect which nerves are being used and whether your brain is working as expected.

When might I need a fMRI?

Your doctor at Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles may recommend a fMRI to:

  • Detect Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in patients with memory loss
  • Determine your risk of stroke, dementia, and death
  • Assess the effect of a stroke, traumatic brain injury, concussion, or Alzheimer’s disease or dementia on brain function
  • Map the brain prior to brain surgery to avoid critical speech or motor regions
  • Monitor brain tumor growth

Functional magnetic resonance imaging has a safety advantage because it doesn’t use radiation. There are no known side effects caused by the magnetic field or radio waves. However, you may not be able to undergo fMRI if you have a metal implant in your body such as a pacemaker.

If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment to evaluate your symptoms, call Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles or book an appointment online today.