Functional Brain Mapping

Functional Brain Mapping is a sophisticated diagnostic tool that allows us to understand how different areas of the brain function and interact with each other. By mapping brain activity in real-time, we can identify areas responsible for specific functions such as movement, speech, memory, and sensation. This invaluable information guides treatment planning for conditions such as epilepsy, brain tumors, and movement disorders.

Before the availability of brain mapping technology, neurosurgeons relied on a generalized understanding of brain anatomy and function. However, each person’s brain is unique. Functional brain mapping allows neurosurgeons to navigate safely around individual eloquent areas. This technique, also known as awake brain mapping or awake craniotomy, involves conducting the mapping procedure while the patient is conscious during surgery.

The Atlantic Brain and Spine neurosurgeons at the Gerald J. Glasser Brain Tumor Center are at the forefront of brain mapping. Renowned for their expertise, they frequently educate others on this sophisticated technique, ensuring excellent patient care.


Our team of expert neurologists and neurosurgeons utilizes advanced imaging techniques such as functional MRI (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and electrocorticography (ECoG) to map brain activity with precision and accuracy. By combining these imaging modalities with specialized cognitive tasks or electrical stimulation, we can create detailed maps of brain function to inform surgical planning and optimize treatment outcomes.

The procedure varies depending on whether it is performed intraoperatively or preoperatively.

Preoperative Brain Mapping:

  • Patients are given general anesthesia.
  • Stereo EEG placement is conducted, involving the insertion of thin electrodes into the brain to monitor electrical activity.
  • Patients remain unconscious during this procedure.
  • Afterward, the neurosurgeon stimulates the electrodes while the patient is awake to map seizure focus areas, which are later removed during epilepsy surgery.

Intraoperative Brain Mapping:

  • Patients are sedated, and the scalp is numbed with local anesthesia.
  • A craniotomy is performed to temporarily remove a section of the skull.
  • Patients are awakened, and brain mapping begins by stimulating eloquent areas with an electrical probe while performing specific tasks.
  • Based on the patient’s responses, a custom map of functional brain areas is created.
  • The neurosurgeon then navigates to the brain lesion while referencing the map, treating it while preserving nearby critical functions.
  • Once the lesion is addressed, the skull bone is replaced, and incisions are closed, completing the operation.

Key Benefits of Functional Brain Mapping:

  1. Precise Surgical Planning: Functional Brain Mapping provides surgeons with crucial information about brain function and connectivity, allowing for more precise and targeted surgical interventions while minimizing the risk of complications.
  2. Personalized Treatment: By identifying eloquent brain regions, Functional Brain Mapping enables us to tailor treatment plans to each patient’s unique neurological profile, optimizing outcomes and preserving vital brain functions.
  3. Improved Patient Outcomes: With the insights gained from Functional Brain Mapping, our team can design more effective treatment strategies, leading to improved patient outcomes and quality of life for individuals with neurological conditions.
  4. Enhanced Safety: Functional Brain Mapping helps mitigate the risks associated with neurosurgical procedures by ensuring that critical brain areas are avoided or carefully preserved during surgery, reducing the likelihood of postoperative deficits.

Functional Brain Mapping Specialists

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