Dr. Rebecca McNamee

Modelling and Simulation

1832 Views An Introduction to Modern Methods of Brain Exploration with a Focus on Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Lecture 6

The brain is perhaps the most fascinating of all organs in the human body,as it is the foundation of human thought and behavior. Despite the explosion of brain research that has occurred over the past several years,the brain remains mysterious with many unknowns. Throughout history the ability to study the brain has been limited due to lack of technology. Over the past two decades however,a technique called functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) has led to the ability to study a living brain non-invasively and thus has become extremely popular among researchers. As fMRI requires some knowledge of physics, neuroscience,psychology,and statistics,it is an area which typically requires interdisciplinary teams to work together to fully understand the methods and to make proper inferences about the results. Furthermore,while it has advanced our understanding of the brain,its limitations and potential methods to overcome or minimize these limitations should also be considered. This course offers a detailed introduction to fMRI,starting with an overview of neuroscience and neuroanatomy and advancing to the functionality of the brain. Initially,a brief history of past and current techniques to study this functionality will be described,leading into a detailed introduction to MRI and fMRI. The second half of the course focuses on the theory and application of both MRI and fMRI. Principles of magnetic resonance and their application to imaging are covered,as well as how MRI progressed from a measure of structure to a measure of function. Practical applications,such as design of experiments,preprocessing,and analysis of data as well as limitations of these methods are also covered. Finally,the course offers an overview of how fMRI is used to study functional connectivity in the brain,and a brief introduction to diffusion tensor imaging,which is applied to study white matter tracks in the brain,is given. The final two lectures will be spent on current applications of fMRI to study cutting edge topics such as the processing of emotions, learning and memory,fear learning and extinction,and the effects of sleep. The course is designed for students with little or no background in neuroscience and imaging,although a basic background in biology and physics is highly preferred. Thus,the course is suitable for undergraduate students,graduate students, and other professionals with an interest in the brain.

Dr. Rebecca McNamee


Dr. Rebecca McNamee is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, PA (US). She received her BS in Engineering Science and Mechanics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and her MS and PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh. She has worked as faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and as a visiting researcher collaborator at Carnegie Mellon University for 8 years.


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