Functional MRI Visiting Fellowship: A five-day intensive introduction


Robert L. Savoy, Ph.D., Director of fMRI Education
Bruce R. Rosen, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the MGH/MIT/HMS Martinos Center

Upcoming programs include the following. 

PROGRAM DATES      PROGRAM CODE      Registered #      Registration Limits
                     Min / Max #
Mar 23-27, 2020      2020Mar23       -       15 / 53 
Oct 19-23, 2020      2020Oct19             15 / 53 

Short Course in Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

The pioneering work of the Martinos Center spurred an explosion of research in functional brain imaging. While we have known for almost 100 years that neural activity causes localized changes in blood flow, and researchers have more recently demonstrated that neural activity causes localized changes in blood oxygenation, the tools for measuring these signals have historically been highly invasive in animals and moderately invasive in humans. The seminal work of an extraordinary team of physicists, radiologists, and neuroscientists at the Martinos Center, demonstrating that these changes and blood flow and blood oxygenation can be detected by the noninvasive technology of MRI, has led to a dramatic increase in functional brain imaging work with humans. Because this noninvasive technique permits many repetitions of experimental procedures on a single subject, it is rapidly becoming the method of choice for neuroscience research in functional brain mapping. The purpose of the present course is to provide an in-depth introduction to this field. It is primarily intended for people new to functional MRI, though some experienced scientists have found the program useful.


Students will receive a firm grounding in the fundamentals of fMRI. This will include the basic physics of MR imaging, the biology and biophysics of the hemodynamic responses to neural activity, data analysis (including both exploratory and statistical analyses), stimulus presentation and response recording in the context of high magnetic fields and electromagnetic pulses, and the design of perceptual and cognitive experiments. Over the years additional advanced topics have been added, notably related to issues of structural and functional connectivity, and the importance of large scale databases containing high quality functional and structural MRI-based and behavioral data for hundreds and even thousands of subjects.

As always, a special emphasis of the course will be the design of fMRI-based experiments.  Participants will break into small groups to design their own fMRI experiments.  Consultation and help from several faculty will be available for each group.  Presentations of the proposed experiments will be on the morning of the last day (Friday) of the program.  The core faculty is drawn from the staff of the Athinoula A. Martinos Center (of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and affiliated faculty from Harvard University, Boston University, McLean Hospital and other institutions.


(View a sample schedule here)

Course Lectures and Discussions will run from 8AM until approximately 6PM during all but the last day of the program, with additional activities scheduled for some of the evenings. The last day will be shorter, ending no later than 3pm. The program will include two sessions in an MRI suite: one—normally on the first day of the program—to demonstrate the facilities and to collect structural data on one or more subjects, the other—normally on the fourth day of the program—to run class-designed fMRI experiments. On two evenings we will enjoy a catered dinner in the Atrium Restaurant at the Martinos Center. After these dinners we will re-convene to design and implement the fMRI experiments. These two evening sessions typically end no later than 10PM.


March 23-27, 2020
October 19-23, 2020


Due at the time of registration via credit card.  If your institution will be paying by check or you need a wire/electronic payment, please send an email to to notify the administrator.

For the March 23-27, 2020 course, make payment here,

For the October course, payment page is integrated within the registration page.


Funding and Fees

This program is sponsored in part by the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, which provides space, various imaging resources, and most of the faculty. The remainder of the funding is provided by participant tuition. This tuition will be: US$1500 for regular participants and US$1000 for graduate students. (Post-doctoral trainees who are unable to get institutional or grant funding—and must therefore pay the tuition out-of-pocket—are eligible for a discounted rate of US$1250.)


Information about recommended and alternative accommodations can be found here.