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Book Chapter

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Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) has been around for two decades and research in this field has been exponentially rising. Much of this research has been dominated by basic science. Recent trends have brought the clinical realm into play in which valuable contributions can still be made. Helping the clinician understand the basic concepts behind an fMRI experiment is crucial to further developing and evaluating functional paradigms and research. Critical to designing an fMRI experiment is understanding the related physics and how fine tuning scanning parameters affects the image quality, which in turn affect the findings of an fMRI study. In addition, understanding the physiology behind the acquired signal and anatomy of the brain is also important. To appreciate the complexity of the fMRI process see (Amaro & Barker, 2006; Savoy, 2005).

In this chapter we present a practical guide to the novice on the important aspects needed to perform an efficient fMRI experiment from idea formulation to understanding the possible limitations of the results. The basic concepts of fMRI, beginning with image resolution and physics, will be discussed along with advice on possible "pearls" and "pitfalls" of this process. Points covered will include: paradigm design, scanning protocol, and limitations.


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