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Biopsychology – Brain Imaging Techniques

3. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), focusing in particular on: (i) the purpose of an fMRI scan being to assess live brain activity during the performance of a task; (ii) the finger tapping task as a classic investigation of brain region function using an fMRI machine; (iii) the role of hippocampal activation in fMRI images during cognitive memory tasks, which demonstrates that fMRI can show brain activity deeper than just on the cortical surface; (iv) the nature of fMRI being an indirect measure of brain activity, as it measures change in blood flow and blood oxygenation in the brain region engaged in a task; (v) some key strengths of MRI/fMRI being their non-invasive process and high spatial resolution; (vi) some key limitations of MRI/fMRI being restrictions and potential dangers for participants due to the strong magnetic field, as well as high running costs, poor temporal resolution, and the nature of the measures being indirect and thus presenting only correlational results.


In this course, Dr Gaby Pfeifer (University of Southampton) explores some of the brain imaging techniques used in psychological and neuroscientific research. In the first lecture, we think about post-mortem examinations as an early and less technologically advanced method of brain imaging. In the second lecture, we think about magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a more technologically advanced method of imaging brain structure. Next, we think about functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as an equivalent measure of brain function. In the fourth and final lecture, we think about electroencephalography as a more temporally accurate measure of brain activity.


Dr Gaby Pfeifer is a lecturer in biological psychology in the School of Psychology at the University of Southampton. Dr Pfeifer’s research interests lie in the mind-body interactions which regulate thoughts and feelings, linking biological and cognitive processes. Dr Pfeifer’s recent publications include ‘Reduced visual and frontal cortex activation during visual working memory in grapheme-colour synaesthetes relative to young and older adults’ (2019) and ‘Relationship between interoceptive sensibility, age, and COVID-19 anxiety during the first national lockdown in the United Kingdom’ (2021).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Pfeifer, G. (2022, November 07). Biopsychology – Brain Imaging Techniques - Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Pfeifer, G. "Biopsychology – Brain Imaging Techniques – Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Nov 2022,

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