Veterans Affairs

Anatomical quality, ultrahigh spatiotemporal resolution, task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging

Ultrahigh spatiotemporal resolution imaging for neuroscience research as well as potential applications in brain tumors and deep brain stimulation devices

Medical & Biotechnology

Research at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has led to the development of a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) technology enabling ultrahigh spatiotemporal resolution with minimal magnetic susceptibility-related signal dropout and geometric distortion relative to standard echo-planar imaging based fMRI techniques. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

EPI

SILK

Currently, fMRI of the human brain can help physicians better understand the activity and functioning problems of the nervous system for the treatment of various types of neurodegenerative disorders. fMRI can also provide anatomically precise information about changes in blood flow related to neural activity in particular areas of the brain. Brain imaging is widely used in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s, as well as chronic diseases like brain cancer.

By adapting cardiac cine imaging technology for fMRI, the VA developed fMRI technology overcomes the traditional spatiotemporal resolution tradeoff to enable ultra-high spatiotemporal resolution with minimal magnetic susceptibility-related signal dropout and geometric distortion.

The technique known as StImulus-Locked K-space shuffling (SILK) for ultra-high-resolution large FOV fMRI, can be easily incorporated into existing MRI systems. It allows for anatomical quality, mesoscale (i.e. sub-millimeter) neuroscience research and has potential applications in brain tumor treatment and in improving the effectiveness of deep brain stimulation devices.

A potential high impact application for this technology is in the deep brain stimulation (DBS) electrode placement for treatment of movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia. The preoperative use of the proposed fMRI technology would allow more accurate functional-based selection of anatomic targets (i.e. distinguishing between leg versus arm sensitive sub-regions) while reducing the need for microelectrode recording, reducing risk of hemorrhage as well as operative time.

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