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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54560. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054560. Epub 2013 Jan 15.

BOLD specificity and dynamics evaluated in humans at 7 T: comparing gradient-echo and spin-echo hemodynamic responses.

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  • 1Rudolf Magnus Institute, Department of Neurosurgery and Neurology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


High-field gradient-echo (GE) BOLD fMRI enables very high resolution imaging, and has great potential for detailed investigations of brain function. However, as spatial resolution increases, confounds due to signal from non-capillary vessels increasingly impact the fidelity of GE BOLD fMRI signals. Here we report on an assessment of the microvascular weighting of the GE BOLD response across the cortical depth in human cortex using spin-echo fMRI which is thought to be dominated by microvasculature (albeit not completely). BOLD responses were measured with a hemodynamic impulse response (HRF) obtained from the spin-echo (SE) and gradient-echo (GE) BOLD contrast using very short stimuli (0.25 s) and a fast event-related functional paradigm. We show that the onset (≈ 1.25 s) and the rising slope of the GE and SE HRFs are strikingly similar for voxels in deep gray matter presumably containing the most metabolically demanding neurons (layers III-IV). This finding provides a strong indication that the onset of the GE HRF in deep gray matter is predominantly associated with microvasculature.

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