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Neuroimage. 2008 Oct 1;42(4):1357-65. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.05.010. Epub 2008 May 20.

Stimulus-induced Rotary Saturation (SIRS): a potential method for the detection of neuronal currents with MRI.

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Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology Program, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, USA.


Neuronal currents produce local transient and oscillatory magnetic fields that can be readily detected by MEG. Previous work attempting to detect these magnetic fields with MR focused on detecting local phase shifts and dephasing in T(2) or T(2)-weighted images. For temporally biphasic and multi-phasic local currents the sensitivity of these methods can be reduced through the cancellation of the accrued phase induced by positive and negative episodes of the neuronal current. The magnitude of the phase shift is also dependent on the distribution of the current within the voxel. Since spins on one side of a current source develop an opposite phase shift relative to those on the other side, there is likely to be significant cancellation within the voxel. We introduce a potential method for detecting neuronal currents though their resonant T(1rho) saturation during a spin-lock preparation period. The method is insensitive to the temporal and spatial cancellation effects since it utilizes the multi-phasic nature of the neuronal currents and thus is not sensitive to the sign of the local field. To produce a T(1)(rho) reduction, the Larmor frequency in the rotating frame, which is set by gammaB(1lock) (typically 20 Hz-5 kHz), must match the major frequency components of the stimulus-induced neuronal currents. We validate the method in MRI phantom studies. The rotary saturation spectra showed a sharp resonance when a current dipole within the phantom was driven at the Larmor frequency in the rotating frame. A 7 min block-design experiment was found to be sensitive to a current dipole strength of 56 nAm, an approximate magnetic field of 1 nT at 1.5 mm from the dipole. This dipole moment is similar to that seen using the phase shift method in a similar experimental setup by Konn et al. [Konn, D., Gowland, P., Bowtell, R., 2003. MRI detection of weak magnetic fields due to an extended current dipole in a conducting sphere: a model for direct detection of neuronal currents in the brain. Magn. Reson. Med. 50, 40-49], but is potentially less encumbered by temporal and spatial cancellation effects.

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