Ultra-high field MRI: Advancing systems neuroscience towards mesoscopic human brain function

Neuroimage. 2018 Mar:168:345-357. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.01.028. Epub 2017 Jan 16.


Human MRI scanners at ultra-high magnetic field strengths of 7 T and higher are increasingly available to the neuroscience community. A key advantage brought by ultra-high field MRI is the possibility to increase the spatial resolution at which data is acquired, with little reduction in image quality. This opens a new set of opportunities for neuroscience, allowing investigators to map the human cortex at an unprecedented level of detail. In this review, we present recent work that capitalizes on the increased signal-to-noise ratio available at ultra-high field and discuss the theoretical advances with a focus on sensory and motor systems neuroscience. Further, we review research performed at sub-millimeter spatial resolution and discuss the limits and the potential of ultra-high field imaging for structural and functional imaging in human cortex. The increased spatial resolution achievable at ultra-high field has the potential to unveil the fundamental computations performed within a given cortical area, ultimately allowing the visualization of the mesoscopic organization of human cortex at the functional and structural level.

Keywords: 7T; Cortical organization; Cortical processing unit; Hypercolumn; MRI; Ultra-high field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Functional Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neurosciences / methods*