Seiji Ogawa discovered that Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) could be used to visualize active regions in the living human brain. He showed that this functional brain mapping depended on the oxygenation status of the blood feeding the active neurons. Functional MRI (fMRI) has been used to map the visual, auditory and sensory regions. It is used in surgical planning to identify the motor cortex. fMRI is a revolutionary tool for neuroscience and has become essential for investigating higher order cognitive function and brain interconnectivity and plasticity.
Seiji Ogawa trained as an applied physicist in Tokyo and as a PhD chemist at Stanford. He joined the Technical Staff in Biophysics Research at the Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ where he became a Distinguished Member and where he stayed for 33 years. Since 2001, he has been Director of the Ogawa Laboratories for Brain Function Research in Tokyo. He is the recipient of a number of awards in Magnetic Resonance, is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and this year was awarded the Japan International Prize.