Neuroimaging: Functional MRI
Full course description
The investigation of human brain functions using a range of imaging methods (such as electro- and magneto- encephalography, Positron Emission Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging) represents the most influential development in Cognitive Neuroscience in the last years. In this course, students will learn about the essential facts of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). FMRI presents clear advantages over the other methods, particularly in terms of increased spatial resolution. Since its invention in 1992, fMRI has led to major advances in understanding the neural mechanisms that underlie higher levels of human mental activity and has established a strong link between cognitive psychology and neuroscientific research. The other Cognitive Neuroimaging programmes confront student with several applications of fMRI in specific cognitive domains (visual perception and attention, sensorimotor integration, auditory perception). In this course, however, students will gain a deeper knowledge of fundamental and methodological aspects of fMRI.
The tasks will address questions such as: How can the fMRI signal be related to neural activity? How are functional images obtained with an MRI scanner? What do I need for performing a good fMRI measurement? How are “activation maps” created? Some of the tasks are directly linked to a practical part of the course and are intended to provide the necessary theoretical framework for the design, analysis, measurement and interpretation of results in fMRI investigations. Practical sessions on acquisition and analysis of fMRI data of cognitive functions such as auditory and visual processing will be integrated in to the group meetings.
Students will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- physical principles of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Magnetic Resonance Imaging;
- physiological basis of functional MRIand the relation between the blood oxygenation level dependent contrast and neural activity;
- general rules for designing fMRI experiments, advantages and disadvantages of block and event related designs;
- pre-processing of fMRI data, including motion correction, spatial and temporal filtering;
- fMRI statistics, including univariate statistics, general linear models, single-subject statistics, multi-subject statistics, correction for multiple comparisons, false discovery rate;
- methods for brain comparison and normalisation, Talairach transformation.