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Resting-State Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Review of Neurosurgical Applications

Lang, Stefan MD*; Duncan, Niall PhD‡,§; Northoff, Georg MD, PhD

doi: 10.1227/NEU.0000000000000307
Review: Editor's Choice
Editor's Choice

Recent research in brain imaging has highlighted the role of different neural networks in the resting state (ie, no task) in which the brain displays spontaneous low-frequency neuronal oscillations. These can be indirectly measured with resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging, and functional connectivity can be inferred as the spatiotemporal correlations of this signal. This technique has proliferated in recent years and has allowed the noninvasive investigation of large-scale, distributed functional networks. In this review, we give a brief overview of resting-state networks and examine the use of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging in neurosurgical contexts, specifically with respect to neurooncology, epilepsy surgery, and deep brain stimulation. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages compared with task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging, the limitations of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging, and the emerging directions of this relatively new technology.

ABBREVIATIONS: BOLD, blood oxygen level-dependent

DBS, deep brain stimulation

ICA, independent component analysis

MTLE, medial temporal lobe epilepsy

ROI, region of interest

rs-fMRI, resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging

RSN, resting-state network

*Department of Neurosurgery, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada;

Mind, Brain Imaging, and Neuroethics Unit, Institute of Mental Health Research, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada;

§Center for Cognition and Brain Disorders, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, China

Correspondence: Stefan Lang, MD, 1200 6th St SW, Unit 2309, Calgary, AB, T2R 1H3, Canada. E-mail:

Received September 04, 2013

Accepted January 20, 2014

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons