A mainstay of many neuroscience labs, functional MRI relies on blood flow changes in the brain to serve as proxies for active nerve cells. But a new study on mice finds that neurons can be busy with no hint of blood-flow changes.Many researchers assume that fMRI signals reflect neural activity, says study coauthor Patrick Drew, a neuroscientist at Penn State, “that when neural activity goes up, you should see increases in blood flow.” But recently, that cozy relationship has come under increasing scrutiny.The results emphasize the need for caution when interpreting brain-scan results.

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