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Parallel transmission in very high field imaging

​A team from NeuroSpin, in collaboration with Maastricht and Minnesota universities,  conducted for the first time an entire functional MRI exam based on 7T parallel transmission technology, as part of the Human Connectome Project. The results show that the problem of radiofrequency field inhomogeneities, a barrier to the full exploitation of very high-field MRI, is thus correctly solved, without any additional cost for the user.

Published on 5 April 2019

Abstract of the original paper

The Human Connectome Project (HCP) has a 7T component that aims to study the human brain's organization and function with high spatial and temporal resolution fMRI and diffusion-weighted acquisitions. For whole brain applications at 7T, a major weakness however remains the heterogeneity of the radiofrequency transmission field (B1+), which prevents from achieving an optimal signal and contrast homogeneously throughout the brain. In this work, we use parallel transmission (pTX) Universal Pulses (UP) to improve the flip angle homogeneity and demonstrate their application to highly accelerated multi-band EPI (MB5 and GRAPPA2, as prescribed in the 7T HCP protocol) sequence, but also to acquire at 7T B1+ -artefact-free T1 - and T2 -weighted anatomical scans used in the pre-processing pipeline of the HCP protocol. As compared to typical implementations of pTX, the proposed solution is fully operator-independent and allows "plug and play" exploitation of the benefits offered by multi-channel transmission. Validation in five healthy adults shows that the proposed technique achieves a flip angle homogeneity comparable to that of a clinical 3 T system. Compared to standard single-channel transmission, the use of UPs at 7T yielded up to a two-fold increase of the temporal signal-to-noise ratio in the temporal lobes as well as improved detection of functional connectivity in the brain regions most strongly affected by B1+ inhomogeneity.

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