Optimizing T1-weighted imaging of cortical myelin content at 3.0T Academic Article uri icon

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  • With increases in the sensitivity and resolution of anatomical MRI for the brain, methods for mapping the organization of the cerebral cortex by imaging its myelin content have emerged. This identifies major sensory and motor regions and could be used in studies of cortical organization, particularly if patterns of myelination can be visualized over the cortical surface robustly in individual subjects. The imaging problem is difficult, however, because of the relative thinness of the cerebral cortex and the low intracortical tissue contrast. In this paper, we optimize the contrast of T(1)-weighted MRI to help better visualize patterns of myelination. We measure a small but statistically significant difference in T(1) of 171 ± 40 ms between cortical regions with low and high myelin contents in the human cortex at 3T, and then perform simulations to choose parameters for an inversion-recovery pulse sequence that utilizes this T(1) difference to increase contrast within the cortex. We show that lengthening the delay between signal acquisition and the next inversion pulse in the sequence increases intracortical contrast more effectively than does image averaging. Using the optimized sequence, we show that major myelinated regions that are relatively thick, such as the primary motor and auditory regions, can be visualized well in individuals at 3T using whole-cortex 3D images made at 1mm isotropic resolution, while thinner regions, such as the primary visual cortex, can be visualized using targeted 3D images made at 0.5mm isotropic resolution. Our findings demonstrate that patterns of myelination can be better visualized in individual subjects when the imaging is optimized to highlight intracortical contrast and can help to pave the way for the creation of matched maps of microanatomy and function in the cortex of living individual humans.


  • Bock, Nicholas
  • Hashim, Eyesha
  • Janik, Rafal
  • Konyer, Norman B
  • Weiss, Marcel
  • Stanisz, Greg J
  • Turner, Robert
  • Geyer, Stefan

publication date

  • January 2013