Improved detection of fMRI activation in the cerebellum at 7T with dielectric pads extending the imaging region of a commercial head coil

Manushka V. Vaidya, Mariana Lazar, Cem M. Deniz, Gillian G. Haemer, Gang Chen, Mary Bruno, Daniel K. Sodickson, Riccardo Lattanzi, Christopher M. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is growing interest in detecting cerebro-cerebellar circuits, which requires adequate blood oxygenation level dependent contrast and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) throughout the brain. Although 7T scanners offer increased SNR, coverage of commercial head coils is currently limited to the cerebrum. Purpose: To improve cerebellar functional MRI (fMRI) at 7T with high permittivity material (HPM) pads extending the sensitivity of a commercial coil. Study Type: Simulations were used to determine HPM pad configuration and assess radiofrequency (RF) safety. In vivo experiments were performed to evaluate RF field distributions and SNR and assess improvements of cerebellar fMRI. Subjects: Eight healthy volunteers enrolled in a prospective motor fMRI study with and without HPM. Field Strength/Sequence: Gradient echo (GRE) echo planar imaging for fMRI, turbo FLASH for flip angle mapping, GRE sequence for SNR maps, and T 1 -weighted MPRAGE were acquired with and without HPM pads at 7T. Assessment: Field maps, SNR maps, and anatomical images were evaluated for coverage. Simulation results were used to assess SAR levels of the experiment. Activation data from fMRI experiments were compared with and without HPM pads. Statistical Tests: fMRI data were analyzed using FEAT FSL for each subject followed by group level analysis using paired t-test of acquisitions with and without HPM. Results: Simulations showed 52% improvement in transmit efficiency in cerebellum with HPM and SAR levels well below recommended limits. Experiments showed 27% improvement in SNR in cerebellum and improvement in coverage on T 1 -weighted images. fMRI showed greater cerebellar activation in individual subjects with the HPM pad present (Z > = 4), especially in inferior slices of cerebellum, with 59% average increase in number of activated voxels in the cerebellum. Group-level analysis showed improved functional activation (Z > = 2.3) in cerebellar regions with HPM pads without loss of measured activation elsewhere. Data Conclusion: HPM pads can improve cerebellar fMRI at 7T with a commonly-used head coil without compromising RF safety. Level of Evidence: 2. Technical Efficacy: Stage 1. J. MAGN. RESON. IMAGING 2018;48:431–440.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-440
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • SAR
  • SNR
  • brain imaging
  • cerebellum
  • fMRI
  • high permittivity materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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