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Evaluating the Utility of EPIK in a Finger Tapping fMRI Experiment

12 August 2019

EPI with Keyhole (EPIK) is a hybrid imaging technique that overcomes many of the performance disadvantages associated with EPI. Previously, EPIK was shown to provide a higher temporal resolution and fewer image distortions than EPI whilst maintaining comparable performance for the detection of BOLD-based signals. This work carefully examines the putative enhanced sensitivity of EPIK in a typical fMRI setting by using a robust fMRI paradigm – visually guided finger tapping – to demonstrate the advantages of EPIK for fMRI at 3T.

The data acquired were directly compared to the community standard fMRI protocol using single-shot EPI to ascertain a clear comparison. Each sequence was optimised to offer its highest possible spatial resolution for a given set of imaging conditions, i.e., EPIK and EPI achieved an in-planar resolution of 2.08 × 2.08 mm2 with 32 slices and 3.13 × 3.13 mm2 with 36 slices, respectively.

EPIK demonstrated a number of clear improvements, such as superior spatial resolution with favourable robustness against susceptibility artefacts. Both imaging sequences revealed robust activation within primary motor, premotor and visual regions, although significantly higher BOLD amplitudes were detected using EPIK within the primary and supplementary motor areas.

Dynamic causal modelling in combination with Bayesian model selection identified identical winning models for EPIK and EPI data. Coupling parameters reflecting task-related modulations and the connectivity of fixed connections were comparably robust for both sequences. However, fixed connections from the left motor cortex to the right visual cortex were estimated as being significantly more robust for EPIK data.


Original publication:

Evaluating the Utility of EPIK in a Finger Tapping fMRI Experiment using BOLD Detection and Effective Connectivity