The aim of this work is to demonstrate the need for specialized training in brain image processing. To this end, we have analyzed a degree from University of Málaga on Neuroimaging techniques.
There are serious gaps in training, many times by reluctance of professionals, in other because of ignorance.
The main problem in teaching a field as unique as Neuroimaging is, probably, the ignorance, by the professionals involved in any way with that branch, of the tools, techniques and possibilities opened up as a result of applying new knowledge in their daily work.
Another problem is that even many professionals and researchers in the field of neuroimaging have no adequate technical training and therefore they use wrong methodologies in their research. It has been reported that about 90% of the papers on neuroimage can be discarded because the methodology is completely inadequate.
Research papers rarely consider the influence in the obtained results of the used algorithms. However, the errors in the methodology are cumulative, so that the statistical validity of these results is compromised. Not being a factor taken into account in published papers, they should be considered as preliminary results that need a deeper analysis.
In order to raise awareness of these tools and their proper use, the “Expert in Neuroimaging Techniques” degree has been used as a pilot in University of Málaga. It has had 21 students with different profiles, all interested in some aspect of Neuroimaging: Psychologists, Computer Engineering, Telecommunications, Radiologists, Neurologists, and Physicists.
From our experience, we have found reticence in certain professionals, arguing that image-processing techniques are not needed if you have a human expert. We must stress that it has been shown in many papers that the greater variability in the judgment of an image takes place when different experts provide information on the same image. Thus, they are not reliable or reproducible judgments, which is the basis of the scientific method. On the other hand, there are professionals who, with no experience, claim an alleged "lack of accessibility" to neuroimaging tools.
In the course, students are shown some repositories (such as NITRC) of neuroimaging tools and resources. All the resources are accessible to the community and therefore can be used by any of the professionals interested in Neuroimaging, and, in many cases, with great ease of use.
We have demonstrated to our students that Neuroimaging processing is necessary, useful and simple. There are several common mistakes and misunderstandings in the Neuroimaging literature, which have been addressed in this Degree. After completing the course, all students have admitted that his previous reluctance was unfounded and they are currently using the tools and learnt methodology in their daily work.