Neuroimaging Web-Based Instruction for fMRI Analsyis

NeWBI4fMRI

Background

NeWBI4fMRI is a set of data and tutorials that are part of a long-term initiative to develop an open-access online source for teaching of fMRI Data Analysis. The initiative stems from over 15 years of teaching of Psychology 9223: Neuroimaging of Cognition by Prof. Jody Culham at the Western University and the related popular web site, www.fmri4newbies.com.

Starting in 2017, funding from a $66M BrainsCAN grant  from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund to Western University was committed to enable our team to take fMRI teaching “to the next level”. In 2017-19, BrainsCAN funded data collection and development of these tutorials by Ethan Jackson. then a Western Computer Science PhD student. in consultation with Prof. Jody Culham of Western’s Department of Psychology, Brain and Mind Institute, and Neuroscience Program. In 2018-19, Nicola Popp, a Western Neuroscience PhD student, was a teaching assistant who helped improve the tutorials and web site. Over the term of BrainsCAN, we plan to continue to develop and expand this initiative.

Acknowledgments

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We gratefully acknowledge CFREF funding and the support of the BrainsCAN executive committee and staff.

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Tutorials utilize a free educational version of BrainVoyager (for Mac, PC or Unix/Linux) that works with the teaching data set. http://www.brainvoyager.com/ Brain Voyager offers an intuitive GUI-based cross-platform interface (for Mac, PC or Unix/Linux) that facilitates data exploration. Nevertheless, emphasize fMRI analysis concepts that generalize across software platforms rather than their specific implementation in BrainVoyager. We gratefully acknowledge support from the BrainVoyager development team, particularly Rainer Goebel and Armin Heinecke.

Programmer Kevin Stubbs provided invaluable help in data processing and troubleshooting. MRI Facility Manager Joe Gati, MR technologist Scott Charlton, and Senior MRI Research Technologist Trevor Szekeres advised on data collection. Tutorial development benefitted from contributions from earlier ad hoc tutorials developed by previous 9223 teaching assistants: Ken Valyear, Samantha Podrabarec, Scott Macdonald, and Ed O’Neil. It also benefitted from example tutorials developed students in Psychology 9223 over several years. We hope that future students and collaborators will help us improve and extend the tutorials to new domains

Future Directions

Over the term of BrainsCAN, we anticipate the following developments:

1) Students in Psychology 9223 will continue to develop new tutorials, particularly for advanced concepts. In addition, we hope that some students will help us convert existing tutorials to other common software packages (particularly FSL, SPM, and AFNI).

2) New data sets will be added.

3) New interactive exercises will be added.

4) Rainer Goebel and Jody Culham have signed a contract with Psychology Press to produce a traditional textbook aimed at the level of senior undergraduates and graduate students learning fMRI. Like the course and this web site, the course will be built upon fundamentals of data structure, the general linear model, and with less emphasis on advance MRI physics.

5) A more in-depth eBook is being considered to provide a more dynamic and specific forum for teaching fMRI.

6) We will reach out to others who involved in fMRI teaching to expand and popularize the initiative.

Can you help?

If you have suggestions about how to improve the tutorials and expand the initiative, please contact Jody Culham: jculham@uwo.ca.