Pushing the limits of ultra-high resolution human brain imaging with SMS-EPI demonstrated for columnar level fMRI

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Encoding higher spatial resolution in simultaneous multi-slice (SMS) EPI is highly dependent on gradient performance, high density receiver coil arrays and pulse sequence optimization. We simulate gradient amplitude and slew rate determination of EPI imaging performance in terms of minimum TE, echo spacing (ES) and spatial resolution. We discuss the effects of image zooming in pulse sequences that have been used for sub-millimeter resolutions and the trade-offs in using partial Fourier and parallel imaging to reduce TE, PSF and ES. Using optimizations for SMS EPI pulse sequences with available gradient and receiver hardware, experimental results in ultra-high resolution (UHR) (0.45–0.5mm isotropic) SMS-EPI fMRI and mapping ocular dominance columns (ODC) in human brain at 0.5 mm isotropic resolution are demonstrated. We discuss promising future directions of UHR fMRI.HighlightsTo achieve unprecedented high-resolution fMRI of human brain at 7 Tesla:We simulated the impact of magnetic gradient performance and image acquisition parameters (partial Fourier, parallel imaging, TE, echo spacing).We demonstrated 0.45 − 0.5 mm isotropic fMRI with simultaneous multi-slice (SMS) EPI.We demonstrated ocular dominance columns (ODCs) in 3D imaging through cortex depth.

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