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Multi-phase passband balanced SSFP fMRI with 50ms sampling rate at 7Tesla enables high precision in resolving 100ms neuronal events


Passband balanced steady state free precession (b-SSFP) fMRI employs the flat portion of the SSFP off-resonance response to obtain microscopic susceptibility changes elicited by changes in blood oxygenation following enhancement in neuronal activity. This technique can reduce geometric distortion and signal dropout while maintaining rapid acquisition and high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) compared with traditional fMRI techniques. In the study, we developed a novel multi-phase passband b-SSFP fMRI technique that can achieve a spatial resolution of a few mm3 and a high temporal sampling rate of 50ms per slice at 7Tesla. This technique was further applied for an event-related (ER) fMRI paradigm. As a comparison, gradient-echo echo-planar imaging (GE-EPI) with similar spatial resolution and temporal sampling rate was carried out for the same ER-fMRI experiment. Experiments with visual cortex stimulation were carried out at 7Tesla to demonstrate whether the multi-phase b-SSFP technique and GE-EPI are able to differentiate temporal delays in hemodynamic response function (HRF) separated by 100ms in stimulus onset. Consistent with ERP results, the upslope of the HRF of both techniques can differentiate 100ms delay in stimulus onset, with the former showing a lower level of intersubject variability. The present study demonstrated that the multi-phase passband b-SSFP fMRI technique can be applied for resolving neuronal events on the order of 100ms at ultrahigh magnetic fields.

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