EPSRC Fellow
FMRIB, University of Oxford
Postdoctoral MR Physicist
FMRIB, University of Oxford
Postdoctoral Scholar
CFMRI, University of California San Diego
Sir Peter Mansfield Postdoctoral Fellow
SPMMRC, University of Nottingham
PhD Student
SPMMRC, University of Nottingham


Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), Cardiff University

Centre for Functional MRI, University of California San Diego

Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary

Nicholas Blockley

University Research Lecturer

  • EPSRC Early Career Fellow
Research Summary

Research Summary

My research is focussed on gaining a better understanding of the interaction between brain physiology and the magnetic resonance (MR) signal. This knowledge enables us to develop robust methods for measuring various aspects of human brain physiology.

To date this work has largely been dependent on a specific MR contrast mechanism known as the Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) effect. Despite the name this contrast is not only sensitive to blood oxygenation, but also blood flow, blood volume and vessel size. Through detailed biophysical modelling we are able to tease apart these effects.

There are multiple ways to access the information contained in the BOLD signal. Currently I am investigating relaxometry methods to quantify the BOLD signal in terms of oxygen metabolism. This does not require any external contrast, such as an injection, making such techniques more practical and comfortable. The ability to measure oxygen metabolism is of acute interest as it is critical to healthy tissue function.

I am also interested in the combination of respiratory challenges with MRI. Respiratory challenges involve changing the composition of the air breathed by the participant being scanned, typically by adding additional oxygen or carbon dioxide. In turn this causes a change in the measured BOLD signal. In recent years we have shown that hyperoxia (increased oxygen level) is very sensitive to venous CBV and have developed techniques to image cerebrovascular reactivity using hypercapnia (increased carbon dioxide level).

In future the we aim to combine the relaxometry and respiratory challenge methods to improve accuracy and specificity of our physiological measurements.

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Related Links

Imaging Cerebral Physiology Network 

Network of scientists interested in imaging brain physiology using MRI

FMRIB Physics Group 

Focussed on the development of new MRI methodologies

FMRI Physiology Group

A subsection of the FMRIB Physics Group specialising in techniques to quantify multiple aspects of brain physiology

Acute Vascular Imaging Centre (AVIC)

Research into new methods of imaging Stroke through the Acute MRI In Cerebral Ischaemia (AMICI) project


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