Glossary

longitudinal (T1) relaxation The process in which the nuclear spin magnetization recovers its orientation parallel to the applied magnetic field in characteristic time, T1, following a perturbation.

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) A biomedical procedure that utilizes the magnetic resonance signal produced by the protons of tissue water to obtain vivid depictions of the internal macroscopic anatomy of soft tissues such as the brain.

nuclear spin magnetization The magnetic properties that result from the spinning behavior of a single atomic nucleus or an ensemble of atomic nuclei when placed in a magnetic field.

spin echo pulse sequence A frequently used procedure in MRI in which, for a variety of technical reasons, the appearance of the MRI signal is caused to be delayed for a defined time period after the excitation of the magnetization away from its equilibrium orientation.

transverse (T2) relaxation The process in which the nuclear spin magnetization loses its orientation perpendicular to the applied magnetic field in characteristic time, T2, following a perturbation.

time-to-echo The time delay between MRI signal excitation and the appearance of maximal signal when a spin echo pulse sequence is employed.

time-to-repeat The time between successive MRI signal excitations.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a procedure that utilizes the magnetic resonance signal produced by the protons of tissue water to obtain vivid depictions of the internal macroscopic anatomy of soft tissues such as the brain. It has become the method of choice for nondestructive visualization of brain anatomy. The nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) phenomenon on which MRI is based was discovered in the 1940s. NMR has become an indispensable tool in the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, and structural biology. In the 1970s, methods of forming images from the proton NMR signal produced by the water in living tissues were developed and became known as MRI. MRI is now a routinely used clinical tool and has growing utility for investigations involving brain structure. The purpose of this article is to familiarize the neuroscien-tifically inclined reader with key physical principles and fundamental technological aspects that underlie MRI.

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