Improving temporal resolution in fMRI using a 3D spiral acquisition and low rank plus sparse (L+S) reconstruction

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Rapid whole-brain dynamic Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is of particular interest in Blood Oxygen Level Dependent (BOLD) functional MRI (fMRI). Faster acquisitions with higher temporal sampling of the BOLD time-course provide several advantages including increased sensitivity in detecting functional activation, the possibility of filtering out physiological noise for improving temporal SNR, and freezing out head motion. Generally, faster acquisitions require undersampling of the data which results in aliasing artifacts in the object domain. A recently developed low-rank (L) plus sparse (S) matrix decomposition model (L+S) is one of the methods that has been introduced to reconstruct images from undersampled dynamic MRI data. The L+S approach assumes that the dynamic MRI data, represented as a space-time matrix M, is a linear superposition of L and S components, where L represents highly spatially and temporally correlated elements, such as the image background, while S captures dynamic information that is sparse in an appropriate transform domain. This suggests that L+S might be suited for undersampled task or slow event-related fMRI acquisitions because the periodic nature of the BOLD signal is sparse in the temporal Fourier transform domain and slowly varying low-rank brain background signals, such as physiological noise and drift, will be predominantly low-rank. In this work, as a proof of concept, we exploit the L+S method for accelerating block-design fMRI using a 3D stack of spirals (SoS) acquisition where undersampling is performed in the Symbol domain. We examined the feasibility of the L+S method to accurately separate temporally correlated brain background information in the L component while capturing periodic BOLD signals in the S component. We present results acquired in control human volunteers at 3 T for both retrospective and prospectively acquired fMRI data for a visual activation block-design task. We show that a SoS fMRI acquisition with an acceleration of four and L+S reconstruction can achieve a brain coverage of 40 slices at 2 mm isotropic resolution and 64 x 64 matrix size every 500 ms.

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