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Biopsychology – Brain Imaging Techniques

2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), focusing in particular on: (i) the practicalities of performing an MRI scan, including the protective equipment required to ensure participant safety; (ii) the nature of an MRI scan being a measure of brain structure, including volume and tissue type; (iii) grey matter, or cerebral cortex, which is made up of the ‘bodies’ of brain cells and covers the outside of the brain; (iv) white matter, which resides deeper inside the brain and is sheathed in myelin, which gives it its white colour in the MRI scan image; (v) cerebrospinal fluid, which circulates around the brain and protects it from head trauma; (vi) the mechanism of an MRI machine being to align water molecules in brain tissue with the machine’s magnetic field, then to measure the energy released in the ‘bounce-back’ to the molecules’ original alignment, before converting that pattern into an image of the tissue structure; (vii) the differentiation of tissue types by colour being possible in an MRI image through differing tissue water content and the resultant varying levels of energy released during water molecule realignment.


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 - Magnetic Resonance Imaging [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

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

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