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J Acoust Soc Am. 2000 Oct;108(4):1683-96.

Acoustic noise during functional magnetic resonance imaging.

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Eaton-Peabody Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston 02114, USA.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) enables sites of brain activation to be localized in human subjects. For studies of the auditory system, acoustic noise generated during fMRI can interfere with assessments of this activation by introducing uncontrolled extraneous sounds. As a first step toward reducing the noise during fMRI, this paper describes the temporal and spectral characteristics of the noise present under typical fMRI study conditions for two imagers with different static magnetic field strengths. Peak noise levels were 123 and 138 dB re 20 microPa in a 1.5-tesla (T) and a 3-T imager, respectively. The noise spectrum (calculated over a 10-ms window coinciding with the highest-amplitude noise) showed a prominent maximum at 1 kHz for the 1.5-T imager (115 dB SPL) and at 1.4 kHz for the 3-T imager (131 dB SPL). The frequency content and timing of the most intense noise components indicated that the noise was primarily attributable to the readout gradients in the imaging pulse sequence. The noise persisted above background levels for 300-500 ms after gradient activity ceased, indicating that resonating structures in the imager or noise reverberating in the imager room were also factors. The gradient noise waveform was highly repeatable. In addition, the coolant pump for the imager's permanent magnet and the room air-handling system were sources of ongoing noise lower in both level and frequency than gradient coil noise. Knowledge of the sources and characteristics of the noise enabled the examination of general approaches to noise control that could be applied to reduce the unwanted noise during fMRI sessions.

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