Resolution considerations in imaging of the cortical layers

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The cortical layers are a finger print of brain development, function, connectivity and pathology. Obviously, the formation of the layers and their composition is essential to cognition and behavior. The layers were traditionally measured by histological means but recent studies utilizing MRI suggested that T1 relaxation imaging consist of enough contrast to separate the layers. Indeed extreme resolution, post mortem, studies demonstrated this phenomenon. Yet, one of the limiting factors of using T1 MRI to visualize the layers in neuroimaging research is partial volume effect. This happen when the image resolution is not high enough and two or more layers resides within the same voxel. In this paper we demonstrate that due to the physical small thickness of the layers it is highly unlikely that high resolution imaging could resolve the layers. By contrast, we suggest that low resolution multi T1 mapping conjugate with composition analysis could provide practical means for measuring the T1 layers. We suggest an acquisition platform that is clinically feasible and could quantify measures of the layers. The key feature of the suggested platform is that separation of the layers is better achieved in the T1 relaxation domain rather than in the spatial image domain.HighlightsCortical layers can be obtained by T1 mappings.Partial volume effect is a dramatic factor in cortical layer imaging.Multi T1 analysis can be used to reveal sub-voxel layer components.Cortical layer separation is better achieved with high resolution in the relaxation domain rather than the spatial image domain.

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