Toward 20 T magnetic resonance for human brain studies: opportunities for discovery and neuroscience rationale

MAGMA. 2016 Jun;29(3):617-39. doi: 10.1007/s10334-016-0561-4. Epub 2016 May 18.


An initiative to design and build magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) instruments at 14 T and beyond to 20 T has been underway since 2012. This initiative has been supported by 22 interested participants from the USA and Europe, of which 15 are authors of this review. Advances in high temperature superconductor materials, advances in cryocooling engineering, prospects for non-persistent mode stable magnets, and experiences gained from large-bore, high-field magnet engineering for the nuclear fusion endeavors support the feasibility of a human brain MRI and MRS system with 1 ppm homogeneity over at least a 16-cm diameter volume and a bore size of 68 cm. Twelve neuroscience opportunities are presented as well as an analysis of the biophysical and physiological effects to be investigated before exposing human subjects to the high fields of 14 T and beyond.

Keywords: Diffusion tensor imaging; High temperature superconductors; Human brain chemistry; Magnetic field physiologic effects; Magnetic resonance imaging; Parallel transmit and receive strategies; Ultrahigh magnetic fields.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Axons / pathology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Computer Simulation
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Glucose / analysis
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Motion
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Permeability
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / chemistry
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Whole Body Imaging


  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase
  • Glucose