MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) along with computed tomography and PET are the most common imaging modalities used in the clinics to detect structural abnormalities and pathological conditions in the brain. MRI generates superb image resolution/contrast without radiation exposure that is associated with computed tomography and PET; MRS and spectroscopic imaging technologies allow us to measure changes in brain biochemistry. Increasingly, neurobiologists and MRI scientists are collaborating to solve neuroscience problems across sub-cellular through anatomical levels. To achieve successful cross-disciplinary collaborations, neurobiologists must have sufficient knowledge of magnetic resonance principles and applications in order to effectively communicate with their MRI colleagues. This review provides an overview of magnetic resonance techniques and how they can be used to gain insight into the active brain at the anatomical, functional and molecular levels with the goal of encouraging neurobiologists to include MRI/MRS as a research tool in their endeavors.