Quantifying Head Motion Associated with Motor Tasks Used in fMRI
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In functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies, long experiment times and small intensity changes associated with brain activation frequently lead to image artifacts due to head motion. Methods to minimize and correct for head motion by restraint, fast imaging, and retrospective image registration are typically combined but do not completely solve the problem, particularly for specific patient populations. As an initial step toward optimizing future designs of head restraints and improving motion correction techniques, the head motion characteristics of groups of stroke subjects, age-matched controls, and young adults were investigated with the aid of an MR simulator and a highly accurate position tracking system. Position measurements were recorded during motor tasks involving either the hand or the foot. Head motion was strongly dependent on the subject group and less upon the task conditions based on ANOVA calculations (P < 0.05). The stroke subjects exhibited approximately twice the head motion compared to that of age-matched controls, and the latter's head motion was about twice that of young adults. Moreover, the range of head motion in stroke subjects over all tasks was approximately 2 +/- 1 mm, with the motion occurring predominantly as translation in the superior-inferior direction and pitch rotation (nodding). These results lead to several recommendations on the design of fMRI motor experiments and suggest that improved motion correction strategies are required to examine such patient populations comprehensively.
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