PublicationsImproved Selectivity in 7 T Digit Mapping Using VASO-CBV
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at Ultra-high field (UHF, ≥ 7 T) benefits from significant gains in the BOLD contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) and temporal signal-to-noise ratio (tSNR) compared to conventional field strengths (3 T). Although these improvements enabled researchers to study the human brain to unprecedented spatial resolution, the blood pooling effect reduces the spatial specificity of the widely-used gradient-echo BOLD acquisitions. In this context, vascular space occupancy (VASO-CBV) imaging may be advantageous since it is proposed to have a higher spatial specificity than BOLD. We hypothesized that the assumed higher specificity of VASO-CBV imaging would translate to reduced overlap in fine-scale digit representation maps compared to BOLD-based digit maps. We used sub-millimeter resolution VASO fMRI at 7 T to map VASO-CBV and BOLD responses simultaneously in the motor and somatosensory cortices during individual finger movement tasks. We assessed the cortical overlap in different ways, first by calculating similarity coefficient metrics (DICE and Jaccard) and second by calculating selectivity measures. In addition, we demonstrate a consistent topographical organization of the targeted digit representations (thumb-index-little finger) in the motor areas. We show that the VASO-CBV responses yielded less overlap between the digit clusters than BOLD, and other selectivity measures were higher for VASO-CBV too. In summary, these results were consistent across metrics and participants, confirming the higher spatial specificity of VASO-CBV compared to BOLD.