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Neuroimage. 2018 Mar;168:412-426. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.02.052. Epub 2017 Feb 21.

Challenges and opportunities for brainstem neuroimaging with ultrahigh field MRI.

Author information

1
Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, CNY 149-2301, 13th St. Charlestown, Boston, MA 02129, USA; Department of Radiology, Logan University, Chesterfield, MO, USA. Electronic address: roberta@nmr.mgh.harvard.edu.
2
Somatosensory and Autonomic Therapy Research, Institute for Neuroradiology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.
3
Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, CNY 149-2301, 13th St. Charlestown, Boston, MA 02129, USA.
4
Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, CNY 149-2301, 13th St. Charlestown, Boston, MA 02129, USA; Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.
5
Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, CNY 149-2301, 13th St. Charlestown, Boston, MA 02129, USA; Department of Radiology, Logan University, Chesterfield, MO, USA.

Abstract

The human brainstem plays a central role in connecting the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the spinal cord to one another, hosting relay nuclei for afferent and efferent signaling, and providing source nuclei for several neuromodulatory systems that impact central nervous system function. While the investigation of the brainstem with functional or structural magnetic resonance imaging has been hampered for years due to this brain structure's physiological and anatomical characteristics, the field has seen significant advances in recent years thanks to the broader adoption of ultrahigh-field (UHF) MRI scanning. In the present review, we focus on the advantages offered by UHF in the context of brainstem imaging, as well as the challenges posed by the investigation of this complex brain structure in terms of data acquisition and analysis. We also illustrate how UHF MRI can shed new light on the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology underlying different brainstem-based circuitries, such as the central autonomic network and neurotransmitter/neuromodulator systems, discuss existing and foreseeable clinical applications to better understand diseases such as chronic pain and Parkinson's disease, and explore promising future directions for further improvements in brainstem imaging using UHF MRI techniques.

KEYWORDS:

Medulla; Mesencephalon; Midbrain; Nociception; Pons

PMID:
28232189
PMCID:
PMC5777900
[Available on 2019-03-01]
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.02.052
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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