Balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) offers an alternative and potentially important tool to the standard gradient-echo echo-planar imaging (GE-EPI) for functional MRI (fMRI). Both passband and transition band based bSSFP have been proposed for fMRI. The applications of these methods, however, are limited by banding artifacts due to the sensitivity of bSSFP signal to off-resonance effects. In this article, a unique case of the SSFP-FID sequence, termed integrated-SSFP or iSSFP, was proposed to overcome the obstacle by compressing the SSFP profile into the width of a single voxel. The magnitude of the iSSFP signal was kept constant irrespective of frequency shift. Visual stimulation studies were performed to demonstrate the feasibility of fMRI using iSSFP at 7T with flip angles of 4° and 25°, compared to standard bSSFP and gradient echo (GRE) imaging. The signal changes for the complex iSSFP signal in activated voxels were 2.48±0.53 (%) and 2.96±0.87 (%) for flip angles (FA) of 4° and 25° respectively at the TR of 9.88ms. Simultaneous multi-slice acquisition (SMS) with the CAIPIRIHNA technique was carried out with iSSFP scanning to detect the anterior temporal lobe activation using a semantic processing task fMRI, compared with standard 2D GE-EPI. This study demonstrates the feasibility of iSSFP for fMRI with reduced susceptibility artifacts, while maintaining robust functional contrast at 7T.
Keywords: Integrated SSFP (iSSFP); Semantic; Susceptibility artifact; Ultrahigh magnetic field; fMRI.
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