The optimization of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in humans using the simultaneous decrease of physiological measures

01 January 2013 → 31 December 2015
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Animal experimental and comparative psychology
    • Applied psychology
    • Human experimental psychology
Project description

Dopamine is arguably one of the most important neurotransmitters for human brain function, with important modulatory influences on motor and non-motor aspects. While various functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have related these processes to hemodynamic activity within the dopaminergic midbrain, these investigations have proven to be a challenging endeavor due to the small size and deep location of this region. The present application is aimed at establishing additional non-invasive methods to validate the hemodynamic response in the dopaminergic midbrain in line with my current research focus on the interaction between motivation and cognitive control. In particular, activity in the midbrain is likely influenced by physiological noise related to heart beat and breathing, which reduces the quality of the signal evoked by specific cognitive processes. By recording the signal from these noise sources simultaneously during the experimental fMRI scan, we will be able to attenuate such unspecific influences on the fMRI signal. Beyond this methodological validation, the equipment will be of great value for a wide range of researchers at Ghent University who investigate the interplay between human cognition (including cognitive control, motivation, and emotion processing) and physiological variables (e.g., skin conductance and cardiac rate).