Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Basic MRI Physics

Target group

PhD students of the Doctoral School of Life Sciences and Medecine, (Bioscience) Engineering and Social and Behavioural Sciences who are current and/or future users of the MRI scanner at the GIfMI facility.

No previous knowledge of MR physics is assumed.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used to produce high quality images of the body. Knowledge of the underpinning fundamentals of MRI is essential for every user – irrespective of previous experience. This course will prepare current and future PhD students for the use of the MRI scanner available at GifMI (Ghent Institute for Functional and Metabolic Imaging), a UGent research collaboration.


This course will cover the basic physical principles of MRI, from image weighting, acquisition strategies (such as spin echo, gradient echo, fast spin echo, echo planar imaging, inversion recovery, etc.) and artefacts, through to advanced neuro applications such as functional MRI and diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). Current and future users of an MRI scanner will get to know what is the magnetic resonance phenomenon, how magnetic resonance signals are generated, how an image can be formulated using MRI, how soft tissue contrast can change with imaging parameters. It will provide the MRI user with a sound understanding of the basic physical principles that underpin MRI and of the many different data acquisition strategies in MRI.


Prof. Dr. Eric Achten    
Faculty: Medicine & Health Sciences    -    Department: Diagnostic Sciences    
E-mail: /    

Other members of the organising & scientific committee

Msc. Stephanie Bogaert (UZ Gent – MRI radiographer/MRI research assistant)
Ir. Pieter Vandemaele (UGent ATP – MRI engineer)
Prof. Dr. Ir. Pim Pullens (UZ Gent – MRI physicist)

Dates & Venue

14-15-16 September 2021 (Tue to Thu) •    Campus UZ Gent auditorium C (ingang 48)



Equipment – to investigate types of equipment used in MRI and their safe use

  • Magnets: principles of, construction, homogeneity
  • Main MRI components and their role in imaging: BO, RF gradients
  • Shielding
  • Shimming
  • Transmit/receive coils

Basic principles

  • Nuclear structure
  • MRI active nucleai
  • Alignment
  • Precession
  • The larmor equation
  • Signal generation
  • Relaxation process

Image weighting and contrast

  • Intrinsic contrast parameters
  • T1 recovery
  • T2 decay
  • Proton density of tissue
  • Extrinsic contrast parameters
    • Pulse timing paraters: TR, TE, flip angle, TI
    • Turbo factor, echo train lenght
    • T1 weighting
    • T2 weighting
    • Proton density weighting
  • T2* decay

Spin echo pulse sequences

  • Spin echo (SE), FSE/TSE, IR
  • Fast/Turbo Spin Echo (FSE/TSE)
  • Inversion recovery (IR)

Showcase: Incidental findings

  • Case reports
  • Policy


Eat, sleep, repeat

  • Repetition of the subject matter of day 1

Introduction to parameter interactions and trade-offs

  • MRI parameters
  • SNR
  • CNR
  • Spatial and temporal resolution
  • Scan time

Image production (spatial encoding)

  • Introduction to data sampling
  • Slice selection
  • Frequency encoding
  • Phase encoding
  • Fourier transformation


  • Functions and characteristics
  • Data sampling techniques
  • K-space traversal
  • K-space filling (including parallel imaging)

Spin Echo wrap up: from proton to picture!

Showcase: Artefacts

  • Aliasing
  • Nyquist ghosting
  • Susceptibility
  • phase mismapping
  • Inhomogeneity
  • RF anomalies


Gradient echo pulse sequences

  • Gradient echo (GE)
  • Echo planar imaging (EPI)
    • Spiral K space filling
    • Contrast and parameters
    • Uses and limitations
  • Diffusion weighting

Parallel imaging techniques

Basics of fMRI

  • Basic concepts
    • Essential MR parameters
  • What can fMRI be used for?
    • Task-based mapping
    • Connectivity
    • Pattern analysis
  • Signal generation
    • Neurovascular coupling
    • Hemodynamic Response Function
    • Blood Oxygen Level Dependent Contrast
  • Stimulus equipment
    • Hardware and software set-up
    • Timing
  • Experimental design
    • Basic types of experimental design
  • Data Analysis
    • Statistical tools
  • Statistical inference
    • Group analysis
    • Interpret your data
  • A virtual fMRI experiment
  • Potential and limitations of fMRI
  • BIDS: Brain Imaging Data Structure

Basics of DTI

  • Diffusion MRI signal and artefacts
  • Diffusion MRI biophysics
  • Intrinsic contrast parameter: ADC
  • Extrinsic contrast parameters: b-value
  • Multiple tensor models and spherical deconvolution
  • Connectomics

Quantitative MRI: measuring physiology with MRI

  • Available qMRI techniques
  • Challenges


  • Stability
  • Standardization

Showcase: GIfMI research facility

  • Available hardware and software
  • Practicalities


  • Prof. Dr. Eric Achten    

Affiliation: UZ Gent Head of Radiology / UGent Dep. Diagnostic Sciences   
Head of the Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Ghent University Hospital, President of Breinwijzer vzw an organization which promotes brain science to the general public and helps to steer the impact of brain science to advance towards a better society, past president of ESMRMB, the scientific society for magnetic resonance (MRI) technology and applications in Europe. And many more. Since 2005 the director of GifMI.

  • Prof. Dr. Ir. Pim Pullens    

Affiliation: UZ Gent MRI physicist / UGent voluntary employee   
Graduated in Biomedical Engineering in 2006 at TU Eindhoven, PhD in cognitive neuroscience in 2012, worked as a biomedical engineer/software developer for Brain Innovation BV (Maastricht) and as a consultant for Icometrix a spin-off company that offers advanced image processing for quantitative analysis of biomedical images. Currently at work as MRI physicist in UZ Gent. He has a network of MRI specialists all over the world.

  • Ir. Pieter Vandemaele    

Affiliation: UGent ATP    
Graduated as industrial engineer electronics (Vives) in 1998 and as MSc in computer Science (UGent) in 2000. He started working for the hospital’s radiology department right after graduating, teaching PhD students and MRI users how to safely use an MRI scanner since 2000.

  • Stephanie Bogaert MSc    

Affiliation: UZ Gent MRI radiographer/MRI research assistant    
Graduated as a professional bachelor in medical imaging (Odisee) in 2007, started working in the clinical MRI department of UZ Gent that houses three MRI scanners and combined this with the master in care management. Moved to the scientific environment of GIfMI in 2013 to support PhD Students in the practical use of the MRI scanner. Also president of the Flemish Radiographer Society (VMBv) and guest lecturer at Odisee bachelor in medical imaging.


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Registration fee

Free of charge for members of the Doctoral Schools of Life Sciences and Medicine, (Bioscience) Engineering and Social and Behavioural Sciences.

Maximum number of participants

maximum 100 participants 

Teaching methods

Each module consists of a presentation in form of a live lecture given by experienced teachers and additionally offers the possibility of direct interaction with the speaker with question/answer time at the end of each module.

Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

100% attendance and active participation. GIfMI will award a certificate to successful candidates who attended a 100%, that gives the permission to scan at the GIfMI facility after an individually tailored practical training on site by the GIfMI research assistant.