Link to the MRI website

September 06, 2017 — Our (13 ton) Prisma arrives!

Here are some pictures of our new 13-ton Prisma being craned into the Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences building today. Some assembly is still required. The copper Faraday cage as well as tons of iron magnetic shielding will soon be wrapped around the magnet room as the Prisma is assembled, cooled down to almost absolute zero, brought up to field, and tested over the next month.

Still wrapped

Ready to lift (red optical data cables)

Up it goes

Almost there

Onto rollers over plexiglass

Safely down a ramp with the help of a forklift


August 30, 2017 — Our Prisma ready to be shipped!

Outreach Letter from the Director

Hi all

I arrived at SDSU last Fall to help plan and direct the new  which will be sited in the new Engineeering and Interdisciplinary Science Building (EIS) on campus. The installation of our new Siemens Prisma 3T will begin early this September. The center should open for business for the San Diego neuroimaging community in early-mid 2018.

I wanted to reach out to all of you who might have an interest in the new MRI imaging center, so apologies in advance for overreach, and definitely feel free to forward this to any possible interested party.

We are planning a lunchtime meet and greet town hall meeting in September (details available soon).

One major research audience for the new magnet are people interested in imaging the brain with one or more of the different available MRI imaging modalities, including:

structural imaging (e.g., quantitative T1 imaging)
blood oxygen level detection (BOLD functional MRI, fMRI)
tissue blood perfusion (arterial spin labeling, ASL)
white/gray matter fiber direction detection (diffusion tensor imaging, DTi)
magnetic susceptibility-weighted imaging
hydrogen spectroscopy (‘chemical shift’ imaging)

I am particularly interested in finding out the kinds of stimulus and responses devices that different groups of people will be needing. Among other things, we have plans to set up both front and back projection for visual stimuli (including direct-view VR wide-field), eye tracking, high fidelity scanner-noise-cancelling audio presentation and recording, multichannel air puff stimulation, olfactory stimulation, bimanual responses, bore and hand cams, and possibly prospective video-based motion correction (new KinetiCor) as well as EEG-in-the-magnet.

But we will also have coils and sequences for imaging other neural and non-neural parts of the body. For example, it is possible to do midsagittal imaging of the speech articulators at reasonable frame rates using sequences originally designed for dynamic imaging of the heart. We will also have a spine coil as well as wrap coils.

We are planning to obtain research access to the magnet software environment in order to be able to design and compile new pulse and image processing sequences as well as to install and use those from other MRI centers. The development of new MRI pulse sequences is a very active research area — MRI is ‘not done yet’.

Another area of active development in neuroimaging is software for analyzing structural and functional MRI data. There are many freely available well-suported software packages (e.g., AFNI, FreeSurfer, FSL, SPM); but neuroimaging is a fertile field for newly introduced big data learning and inverse methods and GPU image processing.

MRI neuroimaging can be combined with other modalities (for example, EEG [mentioned above], TMS, tDCS, ultrasound, separately recorded MEG). This is another area of active development.

Inert samples can be scanned for longer periods (e.g., overnight) to increase resolution. This competes with more traditional histological techniques because of better geometry preservation.

Non-biological samples such as wet sediment cores can also be scanned. For best resolution, specialized RF coils can be constructed to get as close to the sample as possible.

Finally, given the large number of magnets worldwide, there is a substantial market for new devices that can be used to deliver sensory stimuli in the magnet (visual, auditory, somatosensory, pain, olfactory, taste), directly stimulate the brain (TMS, tDCS), record record participant responses (manual, pedal, oral, vocal, GSR, EEG, eye tracking), or extend the magnet hardware (higher resolution RF coil arrays, baby RF coils, fixed tissue RF coils).

The most important requirement — beyond an exciting new concept for a device — is having an accessible, engineer-friendly magnet for prototyping and verification. The challenging MRI environment (magnetic fields, high-power RF, requirement for low RF emission to avoid imaging artifacts) is virtually impossible to simulate and verify without an actual magnet on hand.

After safety training (the big scanner magnetic field is always on, even when the power goes off…), we will train you to operate the scanner yourself. Each new scanning project will begin with a brief (4 min) public project proposal presentation to give us a chance to help you refine it, to build our local imaging community, and to give researchers new to the technology a chance to see how it is done.

Once there has been time to submit and obtain grant funding for imaging studies at our new center, we will be charging users the standard hourly fee for scan time. In order to give researchers time to obtain preliminary data, and to submit and obtain grants sited at SDSU, for a limited time, we will offer heavily discounted scan time. I will be teaching a Foundations of Neuroimaging course (PSY 596) this Fall that will use the SDSU Learning Glass lecture recording system.

Finally, feel free to contact me with any possible query, request, or interest you may have.

Marty Sereno

Director SDSU MRI Imaging Center