Spin-echo fMRI in humans using high spatial resolutions and high magnetic fields

Essa Yacoub, Timothy Q. Duong, Pierre Francois Van De Moortele, Martin Lindquist, Gregor Adriany, Seong Gi Kim, Kâmil Uǧurbil, Xiaoping Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


The Hahn spin-echo (HSE)-based BOLD effect at high magnetic fields is expected to provide functional images that originate exclusively from the microvasculature. The blood contribution that dominates HSE BOLD contrast at low magnetic fields (e.g., 1.5 T), and degrades specificity, is highly attenuated at high fields because the apparent T2 of venous blood in an HSE experiment decreases quadratically with increasing magnetic field. In contrast, the HSE BOLD contrast is believed to arise from the microvasculature and increase supralinearly with the magnetic field strength. In this work we report the results of detailed and quantitative evaluations of HSE BOLD signal changes for functional imaging in the human visual cortex at 4 and 7 T. This study used high spatial resolution, afforded by the increased signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of higher field strengths and surface coils, to avoid partial volume effects (PVEs), and demonstrated increased contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) and spatial specificity at the higher field strengths. The HSE BOLD signal changes induced by visual stimulation were predominantly linearly dependent on the echo time (TE). They increased in magnitude almost quadratically in going from 4 to 7 T when the blood contribution was suppressed using Stejskal-Tanner gradients that suppress signals from the blood due to its inhomogeneous flow and higher diffusion constant relative to tissue. The HSE signal changes at 7 T were modeled accurately using a vascular volume of 1.5%, in agreement with the capillary volume of gray matter. Furthermore, high-resolution acquisitions indicate that CNR increased with voxel sizes < 1 mm3 due to diminishing white matter or cerebrospinal fluidspace vs. gray matter PVEs. It was concluded that the high-field HSE functional MRI (fMRI) signals originated largely from the capillaries, and that the magnitude of the signal changes associated with brain function reached sufficiently high levels at 7 T to make it a useful approach for mapping on the millimeter to submillimeter spatial scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-664
Number of pages10
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • BOLD
  • Brain
  • Cerebral function
  • Functional mapping
  • High fields
  • Spin echo
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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