Brain activation is accompanied by local decreases in vascular deoxyhemoglobin. Theoretically, gradient-echo and spin-echo sequences show similar sensitivity to capillary deoxyhemoglobin, but spin-echo sequences should be less sensitive to venous deoxyhemoglobin. This is an important distinction in the context of cortical localization. We report herein a direct experimental comparison of a gradient-echo sequence (fast low-angle shot [FLASH]) with a spin-echo sequence (rapid acquisition with relaxation enhancement [RARE]) for functional MRI (fMRI) in seven subjects undergoing visual stimulation. A Student t test analysis was used to locate areas of significant activation, and then computerized image segmentation was performed to determine the type of activated tissue. Contrary to previous reports, both sequences proved equally sensitive to overall activation. RARE activation, however, was more specific for gray matter, as suggested by prior theoretical models.
- Functional MRI
- Segmentation analysis