On the timing characteristics of the apparent diffusion coefficient contrast in fMRI.
For the past 10 years, functional MRI (fMRI) has seen rapid progress in both clinical and basic science research. Most of the imaging techniques are based on the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) contrast which arises from the field perturbation of the paramagnetic deoxyhemoglobin due to the mismatch between the local oxygen demand and delivery. Because the changes of oxygenation level take place mostly in the veins, the dominant signal sources of the BOLD signal are intra- and extravascular proton pools of the veins. Perfusion imaging methods, developed parallel to the BOLD technique, seek to quantify the blood flow and perfusion. Recently, perfusion imaging using arterial spin tagging methods have been used to study brain function by investigating the changes of the blood flow and perfusion during brain activation, thereby generating an alternative contrast mechanism to the functional brain imaging. Since most of these methods require tagging pulse and wait time for blood to be delivered to the imaged slice, the temporal resolution may not be optimal. Dynamic intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) weighting schemes using apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) contrast were suggested to image the relative changes of the in-plane blood flow during brain function. In this report, it was demonstrated that, in addition to the spatial discrepancies of the activated areas, the time course based on the ADC contrast consistently precedes that from the BOLD contrast with timing offset on the order of 1 sec. Since arterial networks would have different spatial locations and preceding temporal characters, the findings in this report are indicative that the ADC contrast is sensitive to the arterial blood flow changes.
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