Centre d’imagerie par résonance magnétique fonctionnelle


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The fMRI Centre of Marseilles is a research platform operated by the Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone (UMR7289). Its role is to support the scientific, medical, local, national and international, public and private community, in conducting research in fundamental and clinical neuroscience and cognitive psychology. The Center is a member of the France Life Imaging national infrastructure (PIA 2013) and is part of CERIMED IBISA platform

The main methodology is the cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), represented by several procedures :

  • Anatomical MRI (aMRI) for precise analysis of each subject’s cerebral anatomy
  • Functional MRI (fMRI) for a quantitative measurement of cerebral activity while performing behavioral tasks
  • Diffusion MRI (dMRI) to study white matter fibre paths This methodology includes three essential aspects : experimental protocol design, data acquisition (anatomical, functional, diffusion), analysis methods and signal processing. The fMRI Centre has exceptional technological means :
  • A new MRI 3T scanner (Prisma, Siemens) equipped with very high performance technical systems (the most homogeneous magnetic field, 2 channels for the emission of radio-frequency excitation, 64 channels for receiving the radio-frequency signal, the most powerful gradient system : 80mT/m, 200 T/m/s).
  • New installations within the CERIMED building : an MR room, a control room and a training room which is equipped with a mock-scanner and a duplication of the stimulation and recording systems described below.
  • Complete stimulation and recording behavioral and physiological answers system, compatible MRI and synchronized real-time on MRI acquisitions :
  • Sensory stimulations : visual, auditory, tactile, proprioceptive, nociceptive, olfactory
  • Behavioral responses : keyboards, mice, joystick, disease angles, voice, eye movements
  • Physiological monitoring : respiratory and cardiac frequency, Electro-Dermal Answer (CED), pupil dilation, Electromyogram (EMG), Electroencephalography (EEG, 32 electodes, MR compatible)
  • Non-human primates : anesthesiology and monitoring of animals (with the CE2F-Prim)

The fMRI center is operated by three CNRS research engineers entirely dedicated to the center : Dr Jean-Luc Anton, operation manager of the center, has excellent expertise with all aspects related to fMRI protocols design, acquisition and analysis ; Dr Bruno Nazarian, CNRS Crystal Medal, specializes in advanced instrumentation and device control for fMRI experiments ; Dr Julien Sein, MR Physicist, is involved in all aspects of sequence design and optimization. The Center is headed by Dr Jennifer Coull, who has a long-standing expertise on brain imaging of cognitive functions. The technical team of the fMRI Centre works in close interactions with expert and non-expert research team to design and perform the best imaging experiments, in both human and non-human primates. For each research project, the fMRI Centre takes an active part in the definition, installation, implementation and follow-up of the experiments. We provide expertise and support at each of the following stage :

  • Helps with the drafting requests for the CPP - Support for the scientific design of fMRI experiments in relation to fundamental problems : definition of the experimental protocol (behavioral tasks to be done by the subject, temporal decline…) by taking into account the statistical analysis which will be carried out on the data at a later date.
  • Technical installation of the experimental protocol in an chamber : stimulation systems (visual, auditory, proprioceptive…), recording systems of subject’s behavioural answers (keyboard, mice, disease angles, voice, eye movements…) and physiological data (breathing, heart rate, Electro-Dermal Answer, Electromyogram,…) ; computer program which pilots these systems, synchronised in real-time with MRI acquisition.
  • Programming of sequences MRI adapted to the acquisition
  • Training researchers to use the MRI machine and assistance during the acquisition of anatomical MRI data and functional MRI data (and/or diffusion).
  • Support and training in processing anatomical and functional data in a specific and adapted way for each project. Help with interpreting the obtained results. Training Neuroscience researchers to use the software dedicated to this processing.

Scientific production Since its creation in 2001 the centre has directly contributed to 114 publications in international peer-reviewed journals, including several in high impact journals (Neuron, Science, Current Biology, Nature Neuroscience). The fMRI center has directly contributed to the work of 33 DEA/MSc students and 30 PhD students at Aix-Marseille University, and 11 DEA/Msc and 21 PhD students outside of Aix-Marseille University.

Associated teams The fMRI Centre animates a large network of research teams in the Marseilles areas and beyond. In particular the Centre has privileged links with several laboratories in Aix and Marseilles that are members of the Centre’s Conseil d’Administration :

  • - INT : Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone, UMR7289, CNRS & AMU (Director Guillaume Masson). The fMRI centre is affiliated to INT.
  • - INS : Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes, UMR1106, INSERM & AMU (Director Viktor Jirsa)
  • - LNIA : Laboratoire de Neurosciences Sensorielles et Cognitives UMR7260, CNRS & AMU (Director Béatrice Alescio-Lautier)
  • - LPC : Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, UMR 7290, CNRS & AMU (Director Johannes Ziegler)
  • - LNC : Laboratoire de Neurobiologie de la Cognition, UMR 7291, CNRS & AMU (Director Thierry Hasbrouq)
  • - LSIS : Laboratoire des Sciences de l’Information et des Systèmes, UMR7296, CNRS & AMU (Director Mustapha Ouladsine)
  • - BLRI : Brain and Language Research Institute, CNRS & AMU (Director Philippe Blache)
  • - SdP : Station de Primatologie, CNRS (Director Romain Lacoste)

Training and scientific animation The fMRI Centre has an active role in the training of students and researchers and the scientific animation of a large research community

  • - The Centre animates the monthly “Réunions mensuelles de neuroimagerie” featuring presentations by local, national and international researchers on various topics related to neuroimaging (not necessarily restricted to fMRI). All new fMRI projects must be presented publicly at this meeting prior to data acquisition, in order to stimulate suggestions by the public and raise the project’s scientific level and publication impact.
  • - The Centre animates a Scientific Committee that produces detailed suggestions on each new project and that can be mobilized by the Centre’s scientific director to help with training, teaching, etc.
  • - The Centre holds each year an “FMRI day” featuring local students and researchers but also national and international keynote speakers on various topics in MRI research ; this successful event is the occasion for students and researchers interested in fMRI to listen to the most recent updates in MR neuroscience research and to interact with one another.
  • - The Centre has a long tradition of organizing informal (‘Groupes thématiques de Travail’) or more formal training courses. The last training consisted of a 4-day fMRI course for beginners that took place June 1-4, 2015 with the support of France-Life Imaging and hosted 40 students who gave enthusiastic ratings to the training course

The website of the center :

Their publications :

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