Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

Approved Research

The influence of metabolic parameters, hormones, and time of day on cognitive functioning and the fMRI/BOLD signal

Principal Investigator: Professor Karsten Specht
Approved Research ID: 62029
Approval date: June 16th 2021

Lay summary

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a technique that allows examining the functions of the brain. It has been developed 30 years ago and became a widely used tool in psychological, neurological, and psychiatric research. However, one limitation that still exists is that fMRI can only be applied in group studies. This means that results from fMRI research are only valid if a rather large group of healthy participants or patients with the same disorder has been examined. Accordingly, fMRI is unusable for any diagnostic purposes.

One reason for this substantial limitation of the fMRI technique is the origin of the fMRI signal because it doesn't measure brain activity directly but through a metabolic mechanism. Therefore, the fMRI signal might be exposed to many influences from the outside or the inside of the body that may affect specific metabolic processes. Accordingly, this may lead to variations of the fMRI signal in the absence of changes of the brain activation.

This research project aims to identify the most dominant factors that may cause variations of the fMRI signal. By applying advanced analysis techniques and computational methods, it is expected to reach a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms. With this increased knowledge, it might be possible to come one step further in the development of clinical fMRI as a diagnostic tool for tomorrows clinic.