The goal of this project is to develop a sensitive method for zoomed, or reduced FOV (rFOV), high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at 3T, and apply it to the study of layer-specific activation across the human cortex. Several groups are currently studying the laminar contributions to the observed fMRI signal, with the goal of relating ob- served fMRI signals to underlying neuronal activity. These studies are generally done at high field with mm to sub-mm resolution across layers. In humans, rFOV imaging at 7T has produced the most detailed depictions to date of laminar functional organization. However, the 7T platform presents certain practical and technical challenges, and is not yet widely available to the neuroimaging community. We propose to develop a protocol for rFOV high-resolution 3D functional brain mapping on 3T clinical scanners with enhanced sensitivity and improved spatio-temporal resolution compared to existing rFOV schemes. 3T MRI is now a mature technology and widely available, and the ability to study laminar functional organization at this field strength, and to differentiate between several underlying neuronal processes based on spatio-temporal fMRI signatures identified in high-resolution laminar studies, would be of fundamental importance to the neuroimaging community. The proposed method could ultimately benefit clinical research and practice as well, e.g., by enabling assessment of the layer-specific functional impact of cortical lesions in neurodegenerative diseases. Our approach contains two key ingredients: First, a novel pulse sequence that encodes functional contrast not only in the transverse magnetization produced by the most recent RF excitation pulse, but also in the steady-state longitudinal magnetization. This permits 3D segmented imaging with short TR, which provides high image quality and time-efficient scanning, without loss of functional contrast relative to conventional 2D multislice BOLD. Second, novel 3D tailored RF pulses for rFOV selection that enable fast non-cartesian data readouts with improved temporal resolution compared to standard approaches. We will perform simulation and human volunteer studies to evaluate the proposed sequence, in terms of functional contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) across cortical layers and ability to resolve layer-specifc activation and BOLD dynamics (e.g., onset time and activation duration).

Public Health Relevance

Statement Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is used to measure brain function, and has revolutionized our understanding of cognitive processes during the last 20 years. However, the spatial resolution of fMRI is typically too low to resolve functional signals across the cortical thickness (2-3 mm), unless high-magnetic-field scanners are used which are not widely available. In this project we will develop a high-resolution fMRI technique that can be used with clinical MRI scanners. We expect this to improve our understanding of cognitive function, and to enable new studies into the functional impact of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Neuroscience and Ophthalmic Imaging Technologies Study Section (NOIT)
Program Officer
Liu, Guoying
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Biomedical Engineering
Biomed Engr/Col Engr/Engr Sta
Ann Arbor
United States
Zip Code
Ravi, Keerthi Sravan; Potdar, Sneha; Poojar, Pavan et al. (2018) Pulseq-Graphical Programming Interface: Open source visual environment for prototyping pulse sequences and integrated magnetic resonance imaging algorithm development. Magn Reson Imaging 52:9-15
Williams, Sydney N; Nielsen, Jon-Fredrik; Fessler, Jeffrey A et al. (2018) Design of spectral-spatial phase prewinding pulses and their use in small-tip fast recovery steady-state imaging. Magn Reson Med 79:1377-1386
Nielsen, Jon-Fredrik; Noll, Douglas C (2018) TOPPE: A framework for rapid prototyping of MR pulse sequences. Magn Reson Med 79:3128-3134
Sun, Hao; Fessler, Jeffrey A; Noll, Douglas C et al. (2016) Rapid inner-volume imaging in the steady-state with 3D selective excitation and small-tip fast recovery imaging. Magn Reson Med 76:1217-23
Nielsen, Jon-Fredrik; Noll, Douglas C (2016) Improved spoiling efficiency in dynamic RF-spoiled imaging by ghost phase modulation and temporal filtering. Magn Reson Med 75:2388-93
Hao, Sun; Fessler, Jeffrey A; Noll, Douglas C et al. (2016) Joint Design of Excitation k-Space Trajectory and RF Pulse for Small-Tip 3D Tailored Excitation in MRI. IEEE Trans Med Imaging 35:468-79
Sun, Hao; Fessler, Jeffrey A; Noll, Douglas C et al. (2016) Balanced SSFP-like steady-state imaging using small-tip fast recovery with a spectral prewinding pulse. Magn Reson Med 75:839-44
Sun, Hao; Fessler, Jeffrey A; Noll, Douglas C et al. (2015) Steady-state functional MRI using spoiled small-tip fast recovery imaging. Magn Reson Med 73:536-43