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Abstract #3721

Optimization of EPI protocols for maximum BOLD sensitivity through numerical simulations

Steffen Volz1, Martina F. Callaghan1, Oliver Josephs1, and Nikolaus Weiskopf1,2

1Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, UCL Institute of Neurology, UCL, London, United Kingdom, 2Department of Neurophysics, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany

fMRI studies can suffer substantially from BOLD sensitivity loss due to susceptibility-related magnetic field inhomogeneities. We developed an automated algorithm for optimising arbitrary EPI protocols with respect to BOLD sensitivity based on numerical simulations and a multi-subject field map database, saving time and expensive measurements. In contrast to previous experimental optimization approaches that were limited e.g. to z-shim, gradient polarity and slice tilt for a specific EPI protocol, this algorithm optimizes on a larger parameter space including resolution, echo time and slice orientation. Results were compared to earlier experimental approaches and verified by BOLD sensitivity measurements in healthy volunteers.

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