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Quantitative MRI of the Brain: Measuring Changes Caused by Disease

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This book was conceived one balmy March evening on the banks of the river Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia, where I had just arrived for a sabbatical, and it became clear that the traditions of measurement science and MRI should meet. The notion of a guide, a cook-book, for quantitative MRI (qMR) techniques took seed, and attained its own life, insistently telling me, during the writing process, what had to be included. With the help of a network of enthusiastic colleagues from the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, a description of the state of the art in qMR has been assembled, which would be impossible for a single author to achieve.

The Muse of qMR visited me in many places: Brighton, Glasgow, Hawaii (Waikiki Beach and Molaka’i), Lewes, London, Oxford, and Paris (Jeu de Paume). Others have written in Bordeaux, the Bronx, Chalfont St Peter, Guilford, Leiden, London, Manchester, Nijmegen, Northwood, Nottingham, Oxford, Philadelphia, Utrecht, and probably many other places. Jacob Bronowski also inspired me1. During the creative part of the process, I have been aware of ideas coming to me in a variety of inspiring places and times, and I am aware of the remark by the composer Stravinsky, whilst writing his Rite of Spring: ‘I was the vessel through which the Rite passed’. John Cleese’s view2 is that ‘The chief [condition in which creativity can thrive] is to give people time and space without pressure, simply to dream. Intelligence increases when you think less. We have too much noise in our heads. We need quiet spaces; it’s about allowing something to happen to you’. With the knowledge came the responsibility to make it widely available. Poets speak of ‘channelled poetry’, where the words arrive without conscious effort. Gibran3, (speaking of children), says ‘they come through you, but not from you’ and also ‘work is love made visible’. Sometimes I seemed to be witnessing the creation of perfection.

At times, it has been a lonely activity; my son Alex regularly brought me back to happiness after bleak days of writing. I was reminded of the composer (possibly Rachmaninov) who worked for 5 days, from 5 o’clock in the morning to 8 o’clock in the evening, then collapsed with tiredness at the end, overcome by the enormity of the work he had just created. The total effort to produce this book is equivalent to about three person-years.

Describing the intersection of measurement science and MR imaging has been an international effort by the members of the MRI research community, with much communication by email, and rapid access to journal articles on-line, in a way that would not have been possible a few years ago; some co-authors have not even (yet) met each other. The Global Village has truly arrived. The overview boxes, and many of the footnotes, are generally my responsibility. The conventions regarding units and abbreviations follow those in the Style Guide of the journal Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, as much as possible.

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