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Research

The Cornell MRI Facility is dedicated to developing and applying MRI technology for basic and translational research involving humans and animals, behavior, neuroscience, biomedical materials and other new/innovative materials, plant biology, and basic physics and engineering.

Researchers from across the university are invited to use the facility and to collaborate on research or technology development.

Projects Underway

The gist of hot and cold  cognition in adolescents’ risky decision making

Large-scale brain network dynamics and cognition

Improving resting-state functional MRI using multi-echo BOLD and perfusion acquisition

Investigation of cognitive factors in speech production with real-time MRI of the vocal tract

 

The gist of hot and cold cognition in adolescents’ risky decision making
Valerie Reyna, Department of Human Development

Adolescents are at the peak of physical robustness, yet they are also at heightened risk of death, injury and disease. This increased mortality and morbidity has been blamed on risky decision-making processes performed by a still-maturing brain. Bringing together economists, psychologists, and neuroscientists, the team will test surprising but theoretically motivated predictions about the interplay between cognition versus emotional and motivational states, such as hunger, fear, and tempting rewards, as adolescents and young adults make consequential risky decisions. Functional magnetic resonance imaging will be used to uncover the neural substrates of adolescent versus adult risk taking, in particular, examining the protective effect of gist processing in reducing vulnerability to unhealthy risks. Top

Large-scale brain network dynamics and cognition
Nathan Spreng, Department of Human Development

This work investigates the link between memory, cognitive control, and social cognition, and the interacting brain networks that support them, to better understand the properties of the brain networks underlying complex cognitive processes as they change across the lifespan. Top

Improving resting-state functional MRI using multi-echo BOLD and perfusion acquisition
Wenming Luh, CMRIF

The purpose of this study is to improve the imaging data quality of resting-state functional MRI. The functional MRI is a method using MRI images to non-invasively observe brain activities through the changes in image signal amplitude. Due to elevated demand in energy consumption of a certain brain area while performing cognitive tasks, an increase in cerebral blood flow results in a temporally corresponding increase of MRI image intensity, which is termed blood oxygen level dependent contrast, or BOLD contrast. However, our brain is constantly active even when we are not doing anything in particular such as during rest. Synchrony among brain networks, or functional connectivity, can be detected during rest through BOLD signal and is found to correlate with important brain functions. Nevertheless, our natural physiological changes such as breathing, cardiac pulsation and body movement also cause changes in BOLD signal in a systematic way that is not tied to cognitive brain function per se. We have devised an MRI method to acquire multiple images at one time frame (i.e. multi-echo) that exhibit different sensitivity between BOLD signal change and physiological-based signal change in order to differentiate them. In this current study, we will investigate the effects of image quality (i.e. signal-to-noise ratio) and acquisition speed on this new method in order to improve the acquisition parameters under various settings. Top

Investigation of cognitive factors in speech production with real-time MRI of the vocal tract
Sam Tilsen, Department of Linguistics

The sounds of speech are determined by the shape of the vocal tract, which speakers control by moving their tongue, lips, jaw, and soft palate. The movements of these vocal organs are some of the most complex movements that humans produce. Moreover, the targets of articulatory movements and their relative timing are precisely controlled, and this control is systematically influenced by many factors. The purpose of this study is to investigate cognitive factors influencing the control of speech articulation using real-time MRI (rtMRI) of the vocal tract. rtMRI samples rapidly (more than 100 samples per second) and typically images a 2D mid-sagittal slice of the vocal tract. The resulting images reveal the time-varying geometry of the vocal tract in the mid-sagittal plane, which provides information on various articulatory control parameters, such as the aperture and protrusion of the lips, the location and degree of lingual constriction, and the elevation/lowering of the velum. The current study will address several important issues regarding cognitive and linguistic factors that influence the control of speech articulation. Specifically, the study aims to investigate how factors such as language, word complexity, utterance preparation, and repetition influence the targets and relative timing of labial, lingual, and velar articulations. Top

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