Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is able to detect changes in blood oxygenation level associated with neuronal activity throughout the brain. For more than a decade, fMRI alone or in combination with simultaneous EEG recording (EEG-fMRI) has been used to investigate the hemodynamic changes associated with interictal and ictal epileptic discharges. This is the first literature review to focus on the various fMRI acquisition and data analysis methods applied to map epileptic seizure-related hemodynamic changes from the first report of an fMRI scan of a seizure to the present day. Two types of data analysis approaches, based on temporal correlation and data driven, are explained and contrasted. The spatial and temporal relationship between the observed hemodynamic changes using fMRI and other non-invasive and invasive electrophysiological and imaging data is considered. We then describe the role of fMRI in localizing and exploring the networks involved in spontaneous and triggered seizure onset and propagation. We also discuss that fMRI alone and combined with EEG hold great promise in the investigation of seizure-related hemodynamic changes non-invasively in humans. We think that this will lead to significant improvements in our understanding of seizures with important consequences for the treatment of epilepsy.
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