Objective. Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) of the brain has shown promise as a sensitive neuroimaging biomarker for neurodegenerative disorders; however, the accuracy of performing MRE of the cerebral cortex warrants investigation due to the unique challenges of studying thinner and more complex geometries.Approach. A series of realistic, whole-brain simulation experiments are performed to examine the accuracy of MRE to measure the viscoelasticity (shear stiffness,μ, and damping ratio, ξ) of cortical structures predominantly effected in aging and neurodegeneration. Variations to MRE spatial resolution and the regularization of a nonlinear inversion (NLI) approach are examined.Main results. Higher-resolution MRE displacement data (1.25 mm isotropic resolution) and NLI with a low soft prior regularization weighting provided minimal measurement error compared to other studied protocols. With the optimized protocol, an average error inμand ξ was 3% and 11%, respectively, when compared with the known ground truth. Mid-line structures, as opposed to those on the cortical surface, generally display greater error. Varying model boundary conditions and reducing the thickness of the cortex by up to 0.67 mm (which is a realistic portrayal of neurodegenerative pathology) results in no loss in reconstruction accuracy.Significance. These experiments establish quantitative guidelines for the accuracy expected ofin vivoMRE of the cortex, with the proposed method providing valid MRE measures for future investigations into cortical viscoelasticity and relationships with health, cognition, and behavior.
Keywords: brain; high-resolution; magnetic resonance elastography; mechanical properties; neurodegeneration; stiffness.
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