Silent echo-planar imaging for auditory FMRI

S. Schmitter, E. Diesch, M. Amann, A. Kroll, M. Moayer, L. R. Schad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Introduction: The effect of the acoustic scanner noise produced by gradient coil switching on the auditory evoked BOLD signal represents a well-known problem in auditory functional MRI (FMRI). In this paper, a new low-noise echo-planar imaging (EPI) sequence is presented that is optimized for auditory FMRI measurements. Methods: The sequence produces a narrow-band acoustic frequency spectrum by using a sinusoidal readout echo train and a constant phase encoding gradient. This narrow band is adapted to the frequency response function of the MR scanner by varying the switching frequency of the sinusoidal readout gradient. Results: Compared to a manufacturer-provided standard EPI sequence, the acoustic noise reduction amounts to up to 20 dBA. Using a simple block design paradigm contrasting presentation of a pure tone during ON blocks and "silence" (absence of the tone) during OFF blocks, the new low-noise sequence was evaluated and compared to the standard EPI sequence. Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) resulted in higher levels of significance of auditory activation for the low-noise sequence. Discussion: These findings strongly suggest that the low-noise sequence may generate enhanced BOLD contrasts compared to the standard EPI sequences commonly used in FMRI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-325
Number of pages9
JournalMagnetic Resonance Materials in Physics, Biology and Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We gratefully acknowledge Prof. Dr. S. Hoth (ENT Clinic, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany) for providing access to the sound proof room as well as Dr. M. Bock (German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany) for his constructive discussions. This work was supported by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg (grant 23-7532.22-34-11).


  • Acoustic noise
  • Auditory stimulation
  • Brain
  • Echo-planar imaging
  • Functional MRI
  • Silent MRI
  • Sound pressure


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