Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre

User Experience Case Study 

Hazem Toutounji

Dr Hazem Toutounji
(Independent Research Fellow, School of Psychology).


What is it you want to do with MRI? Why did you choose MRI to do it?

I am a Neuroscientist in the School of Psychology, mostly interested in researching learning in complex situations which require the entire brain to be engaged for the tasks. MRI is the most suitable technique for full brain imaging whilst simultaneously seeing the interactions. I am interested in mathematical modelling and new model-based analysis tools for fMRI, hence I want to apply this to the data collected.




How did you get started? How did you find out how to book time?

I moved to the UK from Switzerland over a year and a half ago. I was starting to do more behavioural experiments in Switzerland and I checked out the SPMIC before I moved and was very excited about this famous imaging centre. I asked colleagues who referred me to Denis Schluppeck and we met and I expressed my interest in fMRI and applying it to my studies. Denis was extremely helpful in mentoring me from the start. Having a mentor who is aware of the operation of the scanner is very valuable especially for getting to grips with the interfaces and small details about experimental set up. I attended the Nottingham Medical Imaging Academy (NMedIA) courses and learned things that way about how MRI works and the analysis pipeline and tools. I cannot recommend NMedIA enough.


How did you get the experiment set up? Was there anything unusual you needed?

It was all new to me. I had set up behavioural experiments before in Switzerland so I adapted that. Subjects sat in front of a computer before but I had to set up response boxes in a keyboard setting for MRI. This was tough as I needed to get the signal read properly. I got pump priming funding for several hours of scanning including via the SPMIC competitionSarah Wolfe and Sarah Wilson took me through Calpendo- the booking system. Getting all the information together took time but once I had all the documents it ran smoothly. The process for getting access involved a 1 hour course and answering questions to get the green badge. Andrew Peters and the imaging centre were very helpful. It’s good to think carefully about your set up and give it enough time to pilot. 


What does the data look like?

I am still due to look at the data in more detail but the preliminary analysis of the data looks as we’re expecting. I have only collected data on a few subjects so far. Recruitment was hard at the time as due to Covid but now restrictions are lifted it should be easier.