"...the single most critical piece of equipment is still the researcher's own brain. All the equipment in the world will not help us if we do not know how to use it properly, which requires more than just knowing how to operate it. Aristotle would not necessarily have been more profound had he owned a laptop and known how to program. What is badly needed now, with all these scanners whirring away, is an understanding of exactly what we are observing, and seeing, and measuring, and wondering about." - Endel Tulving, interview in Cognitive Neuroscience (2002, Gazzaniga , Ivry & Mangun, Eds., NY: Norton, p. 323)
About fMRI 4 Newbies
This web site was created by Jody Culham in the early 2000s to provide a resource for teaching experimental design and analysis for functional magnetic resonance imaging. It forms the basis for a graduate course at Western University (also known as the University of Western Ontario), Psychology 9223: Neuroimaging of Cognition. The lecture slides are freely available for use (with attribution) and have been widely adopted by many other instructors worldwide.
September 2019: We have added a new section to the web site called NeWBI4fMRI (Neuroimaging Web-Based Instruction for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging). NeWBI consists of tutorials based on an fMRI data set optimized for teaching. We will be adding new core tutorials each week in Fall 2019 and additional optional tutorials beyond that. NeWBI development was funded by the BrainsCAN grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund to Western University.
The course is being reformatted to invert the typical order in which subtopics are taught. Rather than starting with MR physics and the biology of the BOLD (blood-oxygenation-level-dependent) signal, the course now puts a stronger emphasis on fMRI data and the General Linear Model at the beginning. We then build on this foundation to understand concepts like why preprocessing improves the quality of the modelling. Because most of the students learning this material are from psychology or neuroscience backgrounds (rather than say biomedical imaging), students can get to the crucial concepts earlier without being intimidated by the rather complicated concepts in MR physics. Moreover, for courses where students do projects, they can learn data analysis sooner to become better poised to conceive and conduct a project. MR physics and BOLD hemodynamics are presented later in the course and are taught from the perspective of what a cognitive neuroscientist needs to know.