fMRI Decoding: Reading Minds Using Brain Scans

Maximum enrollment: 24
Professors: Kenneth A. Norman, Peter J. Ramadge

Description/Objective: How can we decode what people are thinking by looking at their brain scans? Over the past several years, researchers have started to address this question by applying sophisticated pattern-classification algorithms to patterns of functional MRI data, with the goal of decoding the information that is represented in the subject's brain at a particular point in time. In lectures, students will learn about cutting-edge techniques for finding meaningful patterns in large, noisy datasets; in weekly computer labs, students will use these techniques to gain insight into fMRI datasets.

Reading/Writing Assignments: Students will be responsible for weekly problem sets and lab reports. For the final project, students will be given a complex real-world dataset (brain scans from people watching a movie) and they will be asked to decode what is happening in the movie based on the brain data.

Requirements/Grading: Other Exam 30% Class/Precept Participation 10% Lab Reports 20% Problem Sets 40%

Other Requirements: Open to Juniors and Seniors Only

Prerequisites and Restrictions: All students should have prior knowledge of computer programming (e.g., COS 126). Prior experience with Matlab is extremely useful but not strictly necessary. Additionally, students should EITHER have prior experience with fMRI research and cognitive neuroscience (e.g., from a course like PSY 259 or PSY 416) OR they should have prior experience with pattern classification and data mining methods (from a course like COS 402 or COS 424). Students who are unsure whether they have appropriate background for the course should contact the professors.

Other Information: We intend for this course to be accessible to advanced undergraduate students coming from Neuroscience, Psychology and Engineering. A large part of the course will be team-based work where the teams are composed of both NEU/PSY and Engineering students. Seniors will be given preference but qualified juniors will be allowed also.

Schedule: L01 3:00 pm-4:20 MW B01 TBA B02 TBA

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