Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies that require high-resolution whole-brain coverage have long scan times that are primarily driven by the large number of thin slices acquired. Two-dimensional multiband echo-planar imaging (EPI) sequences accelerate the data acquisition along the slice direction and therefore represent an attractive approach to such studies by improving the temporal resolution without sacrificing spatial resolution. In this work, a 2D multiband EPI sequence was optimized for 1.5. mm isotropic whole-brain acquisitions at 3. T with 10 healthy volunteers imaged while performing simultaneous visual and motor tasks. The performance of the sequence was evaluated in terms of BOLD sensitivity and false-positive activation at multiband (MB) factors of 1, 2, 4, and 6, combined with in-plane GRAPPA acceleration of 2. × (GRAPPA 2), and the two reconstruction approaches of Slice-GRAPPA and Split Slice-GRAPPA. Sensitivity results demonstrate significant gains in temporal signal-to-noise ratio (tSNR) and t-score statistics for MB 2, 4, and 6 compared to MB 1. The MB factor for optimal sensitivity varied depending on anatomical location and reconstruction method. When using Slice-GRAPPA reconstruction, evidence of false-positive activation due to signal leakage between simultaneously excited slices was seen in one instance, 35 instances, and 70 instances over the ten volunteers for the respective accelerations of MB 2. ×. GRAPPA 2, MB 4. ×. GRAPPA 2, and MB 6. ×. GRAPPA 2. The use of Split Slice-GRAPPA reconstruction suppressed the prevalence of false positives significantly, to 1 instance, 5 instances, and 5 instances for the same respective acceleration factors. Imaging protocols using an acceleration factor of MB 2. ×. GRAPPA 2 can be confidently used for high-resolution whole-brain imaging to improve BOLD sensitivity with very low probability for false-positive activation due to slice leakage. Imaging protocols using higher acceleration factors (MB 3 or MB 4. ×. GRAPPA 2) can likely provide even greater gains in sensitivity but should be carefully optimized to minimize the possibility of false activations.
Todd, N., Moeller, S., Auerbach, E. J., Yacoub, E., Flandin, G., & Weiskopf, N. (2016). Evaluation of 2D multiband EPI imaging for high-resolution, whole-brain, task-based fMRI studies at 3T: Sensitivity and slice leakage artifacts. NeuroImage, 124, 32–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.08.056