Functional BOLD MRI: comparison of different field strengths in a motor task

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The purpose was to evaluate the benefit of an increased field strength for functional magnetic resonance imaging in a motor task. Six right-handed volunteers were scanned at 1.5 T and 3.0 T using a motor task. Each experiment consisted of two runs with four activation blocks, each with right- and left-hand tapping. Analysis was done using BrainVoyagerQX®. Differences between both field strengths concerning signal to noise (SNR), blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal change, functional sensitivity and BOLD contrast to noise (CNR) were tested using a paired t test. Delineation of activations and artifacts were graded by two independent readers. Results were further validated by means of a phantom study. The sensorimotor and premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, subcortical and cerebellar structures were activated at each field strength. Additional activations of the right premotor cortex and right superior temporal gyrus were found at 3.0 T. Signal-to-noise, percentage of BOLD signal change, BOLD CNR and functional sensitivity improved at 3.0 T by a factor of up to 2.4. Functional imaging at 3.0 T results in detection of additional activated areas, increased SNR, BOLD signal change, functional sensitivity and BOLD CNR.

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