mri translation please

I have recieved a letter from my original neuro today which talks of a new solitary focus of white matter signal deep in the right parietal lobe…can I have that in plain english please.

Thank you for any help.


Hey Pip…gosh…re letter…maybe pm karen(rizzo) on that or am sure she will reply on here when shes next on…

All it means it that you have a new lesion. (Sorry!)

To be precise…

The brain consists of three main areas: the cerebrum (the big bit on the top, which most people think of as the brain), the cerebellum (the roundish, extra wrinkly bit that is underneath the back of the cerebrum) and the brain stem (the bit that connects the cerebrum and the spinal cord - it’s like it’s the top of the spinal cord).

The cerebrum has two halves / hemispheres. Both hemispheres have four main areas / lobes: frontal (at the front), temporal (at the side of the head, behind the frontal), parietal (on the top of the head, behind the frontal) and occipital (at the back, joining the parietal and temporal). If you hold your hands upright against your head as if they were giant ears then rotate the your hands 45 degrees towards the back of your head, you have just (very roughly!!!) mapped out your parietal lobes. (The temporal lobes were partially in the way, but it’s about right!)

The cerebrum has three main types of stuff / matter: gray matter (where all the processing is done: thinking, memory, language, etc), white matter (the stuff that communicates between the different parts of the gray matter and from there onto the spinal cord) and CSF (the fluid that is a bit like oil in an engine). The gray matter forms the outermost layers of the cerebrum, nearest the skull and along the edges of all the folds in the brain. The white matter is inside this - there is more of this than there is gray matter. It’s kind of like a toffee apple where the gray matter is the toffee and the apple is the white matter). Because there is a lot of white matter, some of it is deeper into the middle of the skull - this is the “deep white matter”. The CSF mainly lies in lakes that are called ventricles. The lateral ventricles shows up a bit like a butterfly in the middle of the cerebrum if you cut it through the eyes to the back of the skull.

Signal refers to MR images. The strength of signal from the scanner determines what shade of gray the pixels in the images are made. High signal areas are paler than low signal areas. Demyelinating lesions give a high signal in certain types of scan so they show up whiter than the surrounding area.

Focus basically means that the high signal area had a clean edge to it and was round(ish).

So, you have a new white spot in the deeper part of the white matter in the parietal lobe.


Karen x

Gordon bennet…I knew you knew your stuff but wow…Thank you Karen.

Where would we all be without you. Do you mind so many people banking on you so much?

Hope its a good one.


LOL! No.

I used MRI in the research for my PhD so I know a wee bit about MRI and about the brain. I also do a lot of reading!

As far as people banking on me, I do hope that everyone remembers that I’m not a medical doctor, I don’t know everything and I do make mistakes!!!


The title was “Assessment of visual cortical responses to contrast with functional magnetic resonance imaging.” Catchy eh??

visual cortical responses means brain activity in the gray matter of the occipital lobe.

contrast is basically the difference between dark and light (which is fundamental for seeing, and is often harder to detect in conditions that affect vision): the stronger the level of contrast detected, the stronger the cortical response.

functional magnetic resonance imaging is fMRI for short and is using MRI scanners to detect what’s actually happening in the brain rather than just taking pictures of the anatomy.

You did ask! LOL!

Karen x