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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



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


It is mandatory for all students to register for each exam and to confirm registration for each exam in My Studymap. This is possible up to and including 10 calendar days prior to the examination. You cannot take an exam without a valid pre-registration and confirmation in My Studymap. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current 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