A comparison of in vivo MRI based cortical myelin mapping using T1w/T2w and R1 mapping at 3T

PLoS One. 2019 Jul 3;14(7):e0218089. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218089. eCollection 2019.


In this manuscript, we compare two commonly used methods to perform cortical mapping based on myelination of the human neocortex. T1w/T2w and R1 maps with matched total acquisition times were obtained from a young cohort in randomized order and using a test-retest design. Both methodologies showed cortical myelin maps that enhanced similar anatomical features, namely primary sensory regions known to be myelin rich. T1w/T2w maps showed increased robustness to movement artifacts in comparison to R1 maps, while the test re-test reproducibility of both methods was comparable. Based on Brodmann parcellation, both methods showed comparable variability within each region. Having parcellated cortical myelin maps into VDG11b areas of 4a, 4p, 3a, 3b, 1, 2, V2, and MT, both methods behave identically with R1 showing an increased variability between subjects. In combination with the test re-test evaluation, we concluded that this increased variability between subjects reflects relevant tissue variability. A high level of correlation was found between the R1 and T1w/T2w regions with regions of higher deviations being co-localized with those where the transmit RF field deviated most from its nominal value. We conclude that R1 mapping strategies might be preferable when studying different population cohorts where cortical properties are expected to be altered while T1w/T2w mapping will have advantages when performing cortical based segmentation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism*
  • Neocortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neocortex / physiology*

Grant support

Mrs Zahra Shams received support from an the European FP7 program, FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN (608123) - Marie-Curie Action: "Initial Training Networks" named "Advanced Brain Imaging with MRI" (ABRIM) awarded to Prof. David G. Norris. Dr. Jose Marques received support from the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO - Grant/Award Number: FOM-N-31/16PR1056). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.