Arterial spin-labeled perfusion MRI in basic and clinical neuroscience

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Purpose of reviewArterial spin labeling (ASL) provides an endogenous and completely noninvasive tracer for the quantification of regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Although the measurement of CBF has obvious utility in cerebrovascular disorders, because CBF is closely coupled to neural metabolism, ASL perfusion MRI has a broad range of potential applications as a biomarker of regional brain function in basic and clinical neuroscience.Recent findingsOver the past few years, ASL technology has improved considerably and the utility of ASL perfusion MRI as a diagnostic and research tool has been demonstrated. This review briefly covers ASL methodologies and clinical applications, while expanding on the use of ASL in human neuroscience research to elucidate patterns of resting brain function that correlate with genotype or phenotype (trait effects), or in response to exogenous manipulations of brain function with pharmacological agents or psychological tasks (state effects).SummaryASL perfusion MRI provides a versatile biomarker of regional brain function that can be acquired as part of a multimodal MRI examination. Because ASL quantifies a physiological parameter, it should be useful for multisite or longitudinal studies.

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