Boosting BOLD fMRI by K-space density weighted echo planar imaging.
Zeller M., Müller A., Gutberlet M., Nichols T., Hahn D., Köstler H., Bartsch AJ.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has become a powerful and influential method to non-invasively study neuronal brain activity. For this purpose, the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) effect is most widely used. T2* weighted echo planar imaging (EPI) is BOLD sensitive and the prevailing fMRI acquisition technique. Here, we present an alternative to its standard Cartesian recordings, i.e. k-space density weighted EPI, which is expected to increase the signal-to-noise ratio in fMRI data. Based on in vitro and in vivo pilot measurements, we show that fMRI by k-space density weighted EPI is feasible and that this new acquisition technique in fact boosted spatial and temporal SNR as well as the detection of local fMRI activations. Spatial resolution, spatial response function and echo time were identical for density weighted and conventional Cartesian EPI. The signal-to-noise ratio gain of density weighting can improve activation detection and has the potential to further increase the sensitivity of fMRI investigations.