Detectability and reproducibility of the olfactory fMRI signal under the influence of magnetic susceptibility artifacts in the primary olfactory cortex

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For human olfactory functional MRI studies, the primary olfactory cortex (POC) suffers severe magnetic susceptibility artifacts, which adversely influences the detectability and reproducibility of the olfactory fMRI data and its clinical applications. The goal of this work is to assess the impacts of the image artifacts on the detectability and reproducibility of the olfactory activation in the POC. The severity of artifacts in the POC were classified into three levels using a Subjective Artifact score (SA_score). The mean temporal signal-to-noise ratio (tSNR) of the fMRI data acquired by a given MRI sequence and olfactory activation (β value) in POC were evaluated and compared to the concurrent activations in the primary visual cortex (Brodmann area 17, BA17) by an odor-visual association paradigm using ninety-nine normal human subjects. Our study revealed that the mean tSNR in POC was above the threshold for reliable detection of the functional activation signal, and, consequently, the mean olfactory activations in the POC were not significantly different from those in BA17. The reproducibility of the activation in the POC was assessed by a random half-split stimulation of a test-retest experiment. The overlap of the activation maps for all the trials (n = 1000) in the POC were not statistically different from that observed in BA17. These results show that the detectability and reproducibility of olfactory activation in the presence of susceptibility artifacts in the POC was at similar level of that in the visual cortex.

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