Seiji Ogawa

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Seiji Ogawa
Born (1934-01-19) 19 January 1934 (age 83)
Tokyo, Japan
Nationality Japan
Alma mater University of Tokyo
Stanford University
Known for fMRI
Awards Max Delbruck Prize (1996)
Japan Prize (2003)
Gairdner Foundation International Award (2003)
Keio Medical Science Prize (2017)

Seiji Ogawa (小川 誠二 Ogawa Seiji, born January 19, 1934) is a Japanese researcher known for discovering the technique that underlies Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). He is regarded as the father of modern functional brain imaging.[citation needed] He determined that the changes in blood oxygen levels cause its magnetic resonance imaging properties to change, allowing a map of blood, and hence, functional, activity in the brain to be created. This map reflected which neurons of the brain responded with electrochemical signals to mental processes. He was the first scientist who demonstrated that the functional brain imaging is depended on the oxygenation status of the blood, the BOLD effect. The technique was therefore called Blood oxygenation level-dependent or BOLD contrast. Functional MRI (fMRI) has been used to map the visual, auditory and sensory regions and moving toward higher brain functions such as cognitive functions in the brain.

Early career[edit]

Seiji Ogawa trained as an applied physicist in Tokyo and got a PhD in chemistry from Stanford. He worked for 33 years in Biophysics research at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, and was a Distinguished Member of the technical staff. In 2001, he became Director of the Ogawa Laboratories for Brain Function Research in Tokyo. Professor Ogawa joined NRI (Neuroscience Research Institute, Gachon University of Medicine and Science, Korea) since 2008 as a Distinguished Professor and leading the fMRI research in conjunction with the new 7.0T MRI system. He has received several awards for his magnetic resonance work, is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and has been awarded the Japan Prize.[1]


Ogawa discovered the principle which is now widely used to functionally and physiologically image the brain, particularly the human brain. He built on the technology of magnetic resonance imaging by using the difference in blood oxygenation level to generate a brain map corresponding to blood flow to active neurons. This helped to map the functional activity of the brain noninvasively, adding to the structural mapping provided by MRI. FMRI is now widely used in biology, neurobiology, psychology, neurology and other branches of research and to diagnose the physiological basis of mental illnesses and organic brain dysfunction in clinical medicine.[2]



  1. ^ "Seiji Ogawa". Canada Gairdner awards. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Researchers:Ogawa, Seiji". International Center for Scientific Research. 1999. Retrieved December 29, 2011.