Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, refers to a variant of MRI that is sensitive to local changes in deoxyhemoglobin concentration. The increase in regional blood flow, as engendered by neural activation, overshoots the oxygen consumption. This results in an apparent decrease in deoxyhemoglobin. In the 1930s, Linus Pauling had observed that the amount of oxygen carried by hemoglobin is inversely proportional to the degree to which it perturbed a magnetic field. This property of differential paramagnetism was finally demonstrated in vivo in the late 1980s, and fMRI was born
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