Robust detection of ocular dominance columns in humans using Hahn Spin Echo BOLD functional MRI at 7 Tesla

Essa Yacoub, Amir Shmuel, Nikos Logothetis, Kamil Ugurbil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Scopus citations


Cells in the mammalian brain tend to be grouped together according to their afferent and efferent connectivity, as well as their physiological properties. The columnar structures of neocortex are prominent examples of such modular organization, and have been studied extensively in anatomical and physiological experiments in rats, cats and monkeys. The importance of noninvasive study of such structures, in particular in human subjects, cannot be overemphasized. Not surprisingly, therefore, many attempts were made to map cortical columns using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Yet, the robustness, repeatability, and generality of the hitherto used fMRI methodologies have been a subject of intensive debate. Using differential mapping in a high magnetic field magnet (7 T), we demonstrate here the ability of Hahn Spin-Echo (HSE) BOLD to map the ocular dominance columns (ODCs) of the human visual cortex reproducibly over several days with a high degree of accuracy, relative to expected spatial patterns from post-mortem data. On the other hand, the conventional Gradient-Echo (GE) blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal in some cases failed to resolve ODCs uniformly across the selected gray matter region, due to the presence of non-specific signals. HSE signals uniformly resolved the ODC patterns, providing a more generalized mapping methodology (i.e. one that does not require adjusting experimental approaches based on prior knowledge or assumptions about functional organization and vascular structure in order to avoid confounding large vessel effects) to map unknown columnar systems in the human brain, potentially paving the way both for the study of the functional architecture of human sensory cortices, and of brain modules underlying specific cognitive processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1161-1177
Number of pages17
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007


  • BOLD
  • Brain
  • Columns
  • Cortical map
  • Functional MRI
  • Functional map
  • Functional organization
  • High field MRI
  • Ocular dominance
  • Spin Echo
  • Striate cortex
  • V1
  • Visual cortex
  • fMRI


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