Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides exquisitely detailed pictures of the human body. At CUBRIC we are exploiting this imaging technology to investigate both the structure and function of the human brain.
MRI uses a very strong magnetic field, generated by a superconducting magnet, in conjunction with a radio antenna to “listen” to the electrical signals produced by the hydrogen nuclei of water molecules. The technique is non-invasive and is routinely used in clinical practice.
When imaging the structure of the human brain, MRI is able to resolve features that are less than 1mm across. It can distinguish between different types of tissue including grey matter, white matter, blood and cerebral vessels. The contrast between different tissues in an MRI image is determined by the quantity and chemical environment of the water in those tissues. The MRI imaging experiments can even be tuned to provide sensitivity to brain blood flow and oxygenation, which in turn allows us to examine brain function.