This PhD project is available under the supervision of Associate Professor Martijn Cloos and is focused on the de development of Fast fMRI techniques and their application in studies of the human motor cortex.
The world's most powerful MRI systems, such as the 7 Tesla system in the Centre for Advanced Imaging here at UQ, are uniquely equipped to help decipher the inner workings of the brain. These ultra-high field systems use extraordinarily strong magnets to bring the image resolution down to the size of columns and laminae in the human cortex.
Currently, functional MRI at ultra-high field is the only method that can non-invasively probe columnar and layer-specific activation patterns in humans. As each neuron metabolises oxygen to fuel its computational efforts, the oxygen concentration in the proximal capillary bed is altered, allowing indirect measurements of neural activation through blood oxygenation level dependent signal changes. These minute variations in signal strength can be used to create spatiotemporal maps of neuronal activation, which have revealed profound insights into the innerworkings of the mind.
This PhD project aims to push the limits of this extraordinary technique even further and apply it to study fine motor control in humans. You will be part of an interdisciplinary team that operates at the intersection between physics, computer science, engineering and neuroscience, to create new software (such as, control programs for the MRI system itself) and hardware (such as, motion capturing technology). All working together to probe the limits of fMRI and non-invasively study the human brain.
A working knowledge of MR physics, fMRI, Matlab, C/C++, or Micro controllers would be of benefit to someone working on this project.