Dr. Koopmans aims to improve the level of spatial detail in neuroimaging studies (fMRI & DWI). High-resolution MR measurements are very challenging in terms of scanner efficiency: compared to standard methods, 10-100 times more data points are requested that are closer together. A large part of Dr. Koopmans' research has therefore focused on the development of acceleration techniques that allow faster imaging, both on the signal creation side (multiband RF pulses compatible with ultra-high magnetic field strengths) and signal reconstruction (parallel imaging techniques).
The second focus of the group is on a specific application of high-resolution fMRI: cortical layer-specific imaging. Human neocortex consists of six histological layers, which have specific functions. Conventional fMRI (~2-3 mm precision) cannot measure these layers individually as even the thickest ones are less than a millimetre wide. Dr. Koopmans obtained his PhD as one of the pioneers in the field of layer-specific fMRI that strives to measure the layers' functions separately. Supported by a DFG Emmy Nöther fellowship he now aims to improve imaging methods and develop layer-specific analysis tools and signal models. The proving grounds for this work will be the field of pain imaging, where the cortical layers are to provide insight in feed-forward and feed-back processes in the brain and spinal cord.