Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Basics of fMRI in Cognitive Psychology 3H/4H PSYCH4090

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course will give a basic introduction to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research in Cognitive Psychology. How can we learn about the cognitive processes involved in human cognition using fMRi? We will show modern examples of cognitive research and go step by step through experimental planning, data recording, data analysis. The class will select a task which will be recorded and analysed together. The class will learn about the delay of hemodynamic responses, the importance of pre-processing, the interpretation of fMRI data. They will follow four examples of contemporary fMRI research performed in the department from i.e. visual illusion perception, to higher cognitive decision making.


10 hours weekly

Requirements of Entry

Successful completion of Level 2 psychology

Excluded Courses



Coursework is a written analysis of data-set with an evaluation of conditions (2,500 words) (100 %).

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

Functional brain imaging has become an essential tool in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience that has changed the way we think about the brain today. This course aims to give a basic and practical introduction to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The course will cover basic experimental design (block design), fMRI data analysis including pre-processing (Motion correction, temporal filtering), basic statistical analysis (using correlation analysis and general linear modelling). Students will learn to do a basic analysis and explain results of a simple one fMRI experiment of one subject recorded for the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Design a block design fMRI experiment, analyse pre-recorded fMRI data and pre-process the sample data, using the acquired knowledge of data analysis for a new data set involving for example mental navigation, arithmetic task.

■ Review literature about the experiment and argue an interpretation about the recorded cognitive data.

■ Explain simple pre-processing steps of the data analysis and discuss experimental design issues of fMRI research.

■ Demonstrate knowledge about motivation design and application of current fMRI research in the department including decision making, illusion perception, or social cognition and acquire hands on experience with the analysis of fMRI sample data.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.