Laying the Foundation: Nuclear Magnetism, Spin, and the NMR Phenomenon

  • Michael L. Lipton


If we bring together a group of people involved in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and present them with a magnetic resonance (MR) image, each will see something different in that image. Radiologists will hone in on subtle pathology, psychiatry researchers will notice minute asymmetries in cortical sulci, technologists may pick up on poor positioning, and physicists will evaluate signal-to-noise and detect artifacts. What are we all trying to achieve at the end of the day? Regardless of the type of image acquired or the purpose for which it was acquired, our single common goal in MRI is this:

Differentiate the tissue in two adjacent locations based on the way that tissue behaves in the MRI environment. If the signal extracted from those two locations is identical, we cannot differentiate the two tissues from each other. This could be because each location does in fact contain the same tissue (e.g., two locations within the cortex of the kidney) or because the MR image was not made sensitive to the difference between the two tissues. In this latter case, a tumor could be virtually indistinguishable from the normal tissue within which it is growing.


Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Magnetic Resonance Imaging Signal Energy Configuration Magnetic Resonance Signal Nuclear Magnetism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael L. Lipton
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical CenterBronxUSA
  2. 2.The Center for Advanced Brain ImagingThe Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric ResearchOrangeburgUSA

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