Measurement of cerebral perfusion with arterial spin labeling: Part 1. Methods

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2007 May;13(3):517-25. doi: 10.1017/S1355617707070646.


Arterial spin labeling (ASL) is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method that provides a highly repeatable quantitative measure of cerebral blood flow (CBF). As compared to the more commonly used blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) contrast-based methods, ASL techniques measure a more biologically specific correlate of neural activity, with the potential for more accurate estimation of the location and magnitude of neural function. Recent advances in acquisition and analysis methods have improved the somewhat limited sensitivity of ASL to perfusion changes associated with neural activity. In addition, ASL perfusion measures are insensitive to the low-frequency fluctuations commonly observed in BOLD experiments and can make use of imaging sequences that are less sensitive than BOLD contrast to signal loss caused by magnetic susceptibility effects. ASL measures of perfusion can aid in the interpretation of the BOLD signal change and, when combined with BOLD, can measure the change in oxygen utilization accompanying changes in behavioral state. Whether used alone to probe neural activity or in combination with BOLD techniques, ASL methods are contributing to the field's understanding of healthy and disordered brain function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteries
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Perfusion
  • Research Design*
  • Spin Labels*


  • Spin Labels