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Quant Imaging Med Surg. 2013 Feb;3(1):28-42. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2223-4292.2013.02.01.

A real-time data acquisition and control of gradient coil noise for fMRI identification of hearing disorder in children with history of ear infection.

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  • 1Dept of Biophysical Science and Medical Physics, University of Minnesota, USA;


Early ear infection and trauma, from birth to age 12 are known to have a significant effect on sensory and cognitive development. This effect can be demonstrated through the fMRI study of children who have a history of ear infection compared to a control group. A second research question is the extent to which brain plasticity at an early age can reduce the impact of infection on hearing and cognitive development. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) provides a mapping of brain activity in cognitive and sensory regions by recording the oxygenation state of the local cerebral blood flow. The gradient coils of fMRI scanners generate intense acoustic noise (GCN) - to which the subject is in close proximity - in the range of 90 to 140 db SPL during the imaging process. Clearly this noise will impress its signature on low level brain response patterns. An Active Noise Canceller (ANC) system can suppress the effect of GCN on the subject's perception of a phonetic stimulus at the phoneme, word or phrase level. Due to a superimposition of the frequency and time domain components of the test signal and GCN for MR test, the ANC filtering system performs its function in real time - we must capture the brain's response to the test signal AFTER the noise has been removed. This goal is achieved through the application of field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology of NI LabVIEW. The presentation (in the noisy fMRI environment) of test words and phrases to hearing impaired children can identify sources of distortion to their perceptual processes associated with GCN. Once this distortion has been identified, learning strategies may be introduced to replace the hearing function distorted by early infection as well as the short term effect of GCN. The study of speech cognition without the confounding effect of GCN and with the varying level of GCN for a repeated test signal at later age can be allowed to a measure of recovery through brain plasticity.


Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI); LabVIEW; active noise canceller; gradient coil noise; real-time data acquisition

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