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fMRI Data and Statistics


Entry requirements

  • Only open to Master’s and Research Master’s students from Psychology


The use of fMRI has become a very important technique for functional brain imaging. The special nature of the data collected by this method requires very specific, often recently developed, statistical methods for data analysis. In this course several statistical methods for analysing fMRI data will be discussed. The course takes place in 7 sessions. On most days, in the first two hours theoretical issues will be addressed. In the last two hours students are trained in the analysis of data in practical situations.

Topics which will be discussed are:

  • Why and when fMRI

  • MRI Physics basics

  • BOLD response

  • Preprocessing of fMRI scans

  • Single-subject analysis

  • Group analysis

  • Making statistical inferences

  • Functional brain connectivity

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand theory of fMRI data acquisition and fMRI analysis and statistics; and

  • Learn image processing of fMRI data as basic preparation for analysis in fMRI-research.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable


NOTE As of the academic year 2021-2022, you must register for all courses in uSis.
You do this twice a year: once for the courses you want to take in semester 1 and once for the courses you want to take in semester 2.
Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from early August. Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from December. The exact date on which the registration starts will be published on the website of the Student Service Center (SSC)

By registering for a course you are also automatically registered for the Brightspace module. Anyone who is not registered for a course therefore does not have access to the Brightspace module and cannot participate in the first sit of the exam of that course.
Also read the complete registration procedure

Mode of instruction

The course consists of:

  • 6 2-hour lectures, attendance is mandatory

  • 7 2-hour work group sessions, attendance is mandatory

  • 1 or 2 1-hour sessions at the MRI scanner, attendance is not mandatory

No web-lectures available for this course. Lectures and work groups language: English.

Assessment method

The final grade is based on a written exam, consisting of 8-10 open questions about both theory (e.g. theory of statistics) and practical fMRI (e.g. the various analysis steps when computing fMRI activation maps). Language: English.

You will be informed via Brightspace about the manner of inspection and discussion of the examination.

Study material for the exam

All that is discussed at the lectures and at the practical sessions, all information on the course slides and in the provided manuals is exam material. The book (below) is needed to understand the exam material. The book also contains non-exam material.

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

  • S.A. Huettel, A.W. Song, G. McCarthy. (2009). Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging 3rd Revised Edition. Sinauer Associates Inc.,U.S.

  • Lecture notes

  • Reader of work group sessions

Contact information

Serge Rombouts

Anne Hafkemeijer