MRI at the movies

I couldn’t agree more with Randi Silberman in his IEEE Spectrum Tech Talk blog, when he states his amazement at the way fMRI is used in the new Angelina Jolie movie Salt. In the movie it is suggested that fMRI is used as a lie detector without any of the current extended fMRI machinery visible anywhere near the person being interrogated. Yet, this idea may seem less far fetched in hindsight if portable MRI scanners will ever come to the market. Two years ago scientists from Ohio State University published results in MR theory that might one day allow MR scanning without a person actually having to be in the magnet, but only very close to the magnet. Yet, as long as we are not watching science fiction, it would be nice if some of the basics of neuroimaging were respected in movies and series … My personal favorite in this respect is the way in which MR scanning is performed in the House TV series: the patient is shoved into what looks like an MR scanner but is much more like a CT scanner, with a very wide bore. Even when the head needs to be scanned it is not fixated, patients are allowed to move and talk and everyone just walks in with stethoscopes and other metal devices without any problems!