Head motion causes artifacts in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, a problem especially relevant for task-free resting state paradigms and for developmental, aging, and clinical populations. In a cohort spanning 7-28 years old (mean age 15) we produced customized head-anatomy-specific Styrofoam molds for each subject that inserted into an MRI head coil. We scanned these subjects under two conditions: using our standard procedure of packing the head coil with foam padding about the head to reduce head motion, and using the customized molds to reduce head motion. In 12 of 13 subjects, the molds reduced head motion throughout the scan and reduced the fraction of a scan with substantial motion (i.e., volumes with motion notably above baseline levels of motion). Motion was reduced in all 6 head position estimates, especially in rotational, left-right, and superior-inferior directions. Motion was reduced throughout the full age range studied, including children, adolescents, and young adults. In terms of the fMRI data itself, quality indices improved with the head mold on, scrubbing analyses detected less distance-dependent artifact in scans with the head mold on, and distant-dependent artifact was less evident in both the entire scan and also during only low-motion volumes. Subjects found the molds comfortable. Head molds are thus effective tools for reducing head motion, and motion artifacts, during fMRI scans.
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