Functional T1ρ mapping has been proposed as a method to assess pH and metabolism dynamics in the brain with high spatial and temporal resolution. The purpose of this work is to describe and evaluate a variant of the spin-locked echo-planar imaging sequence for functional T1ρ mapping at 3. T. The proposed sequence rapidly acquires a time series of T1ρ maps with 4.0. second temporal resolution and 10 slices of volumetric coverage. Simulation, phantom, and in vivo experiments are used to evaluate many aspects of the sequence and its implementation including fidelity of measured T1ρ dynamics, potential confounds to the T1ρ response, imaging parameter tradeoffs, time series analysis approaches, and differences compared to blood oxygen level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging. It is shown that the high temporal resolution and volumetric coverage of the sequence are obtained with some expense including underestimation of the T1ρ response, sensitivity to T1 dynamics, and reduced signal-to-noise ratio. In vivo studies using a flashing checkerboard functional magnetic resonance imaging paradigm suggest differences between T1ρ and blood oxygen level dependent activation patterns. Possible sources of the functional T1ρ response and potential sequence improvements are discussed. The capability of T1ρ to map whole-brain pH and metabolism dynamics with high temporal and spatial resolution is potentially unique and warrants further investigation and development.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
JAW was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs (Merit Award), National Institute of Mental Health ( 1R01MH085724-01 ), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ( 5R01HL113863-01 ), and a McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award.