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1.  Combined Acquisition Technique (CAT) for Neuroimaging of Multiple Sclerosis at Low Specific Absorption Rates (SAR) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91030.
Purpose
To compare a novel combined acquisition technique (CAT) of turbo-spin-echo (TSE) and echo-planar-imaging (EPI) with conventional TSE. CAT reduces the electromagnetic energy load transmitted for spin excitation. This radiofrequency (RF) burden is limited by the specific absorption rate (SAR) for patient safety. SAR limits restrict high-field MRI applications, in particular.
Material and Methods
The study was approved by the local Medical Ethics Committee. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants. T2- and PD-weighted brain images of n = 40 Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients were acquired by CAT and TSE at 3 Tesla. Lesions were recorded by two blinded, board-certificated neuroradiologists. Diagnostic equivalence of CAT and TSE to detect MS lesions was evaluated along with their SAR, sound pressure level (SPL) and sensations of acoustic noise, heating, vibration and peripheral nerve stimulation.
Results
Every MS lesion revealed on TSE was detected by CAT according to both raters (Cohen’s kappa of within-rater/across-CAT/TSE lesion detection κCAT = 1.00, at an inter-rater lesion detection agreement of κLES = 0.82). CAT reduced the SAR burden significantly compared to TSE (p<0.001). Mean SAR differences between TSE and CAT were 29.0 (±5.7) % for the T2-contrast and 32.7 (±21.9) % for the PD-contrast (expressed as percentages of the effective SAR limit of 3.2 W/kg for head examinations). Average SPL of CAT was no louder than during TSE. Sensations of CAT- vs. TSE-induced heating, noise and scanning vibrations did not differ.
Conclusion
T2−/PD-CAT is diagnostically equivalent to TSE for MS lesion detection yet substantially reduces the RF exposure. Such SAR reduction facilitates high-field MRI applications at 3 Tesla or above and corresponding protocol standardizations but CAT can also be used to scan faster, at higher resolution or with more slices. According to our data, CAT is no more uncomfortable than TSE scanning.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091030
PMCID: PMC3946656  PMID: 24608106
2.  Boosting BOLD fMRI by K-Space Density Weighted Echo Planar Imaging 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74501.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has become a powerful and influential method to non-invasively study neuronal brain activity. For this purpose, the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) effect is most widely used. T2* weighted echo planar imaging (EPI) is BOLD sensitive and the prevailing fMRI acquisition technique. Here, we present an alternative to its standard Cartesian recordings, i.e. k-space density weighted EPI, which is expected to increase the signal-to-noise ratio in fMRI data. Based on in vitro and in vivo pilot measurements, we show that fMRI by k-space density weighted EPI is feasible and that this new acquisition technique in fact boosted spatial and temporal SNR as well as the detection of local fMRI activations. Spatial resolution, spatial response function and echo time were identical for density weighted and conventional Cartesian EPI. The signal-to-noise ratio gain of density weighting can improve activation detection and has the potential to further increase the sensitivity of fMRI investigations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074501
PMCID: PMC3769261  PMID: 24040262
3.  A Brain Network Processing the Age of Faces 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49451.
Age is one of the most salient aspects in faces and of fundamental cognitive and social relevance. Although face processing has been studied extensively, brain regions responsive to age have yet to be localized. Using evocative face morphs and fMRI, we segregate two areas extending beyond the previously established face-sensitive core network, centered on the inferior temporal sulci and angular gyri bilaterally, both of which process changes of facial age. By means of probabilistic tractography, we compare their patterns of functional activation and structural connectivity. The ventral portion of Wernicke's understudied perpendicular association fasciculus is shown to interconnect the two areas, and activation within these clusters is related to the probability of fiber connectivity between them. In addition, post-hoc age-rating competence is found to be associated with high response magnitudes in the left angular gyrus. Our results provide the first evidence that facial age has a distinct representation pattern in the posterior human brain. We propose that particular face-sensitive nodes interact with additional object-unselective quantification modules to obtain individual estimates of facial age. This brain network processing the age of faces differs from the cortical areas that have previously been linked to less developmental but instantly changeable face aspects. Our probabilistic method of associating activations with connectivity patterns reveals an exemplary link that can be used to further study, assess and quantify structure-function relationships.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049451
PMCID: PMC3502502  PMID: 23185334
4.  Ventral Premotor Cortex May Be Required for Dynamic Changes in the Feeling of Limb Ownership: A Lesion Study 
The feeling of “body ownership” may be experimentally investigated by perceptual illusions. The “rubber hand illusion” (RHI) leads human subjects to experience an artificial hand as their own. According to functional imaging, the ventral premotor cortex (PMv) plays a key role in the integration of multisensory inputs allowing the “incorporation” of the rubber hand into body representation. However, causal structure–function relationships can only be obtained by lesion studies.
Here, we tested the RHI in 70 stroke patients and in 40 age-matched healthy controls. Additionally, asomatognosia, the unawareness of one’s own body parts, was assessed in a subgroup of 64 stroke patients. Ischemic lesions were delineated on diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images and normalized. Right-hemispheric lesions were mirrored across the midline. Voxels that might be essential for RHI and/or somatognosia were defined by voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping. Probabilistic diffusion tractography was used to identify tracts passing through these voxels.
Contralesional rubber hand illusion failure (RHIF) was observed in 18 (26%) of 70 stroke patients, an additional ipsilesional RHIF in seven of these patients. RHIF-associated lesion voxels were located subcortically adjacent to the insula, basal ganglia, and within the periventricular white matter. Tractography revealed fiber tract connections of these voxels with premotor, parietal, and prefrontal cortex. Contralesional asomatognosia was found in 18 (28%) of 64 stroke patients. In contrast to RHIF, asomatognosia-associated lesion voxels showed no connection with PMv.
The results point to a role of PMv and its connections in mediating changes in the sense of limb ownership driven by multisensory stimulation.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5154-10.2011
PMCID: PMC3119817  PMID: 21451023
5.  Sustained Reperfusion after Blockade of Glycoprotein-Receptor-Ib in Focal Cerebral Ischemia: An MRI Study at 17.6 Tesla 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18386.
Background
Inhibition of early platelet adhesion by blockade of glycoprotein-IB (GPIb) protects mice from ischemic stroke. To elucidate underlying mechanisms in-vivo, infarct development was followed by ultra-high field MRI at 17.6 Tesla.
Methods
Cerebral infarction was induced by transient-middle-cerebral-artery-occlusion (tMCAO) for 1 hour in C57/BL6 control mice (N = 10) and mice treated with 100 µg Fab-fragments of the GPIb blocking antibody p0p/B 1 h after tMCAO (N = 10). To control for the effect of reperfusion, additional mice underwent permanent occlusion and received anti-GPIb treatment (N = 6; pMCAO) or remained without treatment (N = 3; pMCAO). MRI 2 h and 24 h after MCAO measured cerebral-blood-flow (CBF) by continuous arterial-spin labelling, the apparent-diffusion-coefficient (ADC), quantitative-T2 and T2-weighted imaging. All images were registered to a standard mouse brain MRI atlas and statistically analysed voxel-wise, and by cortico-subcortical ROI analysis.
Results
Anti-GPIb treatment led to a relative increase of postischemic CBF vs. controls in the cortical territory of the MCA (2 h: 44.2±6.9 ml/100 g/min versus 24 h: 60.5±8.4; p = 0.0012, F(1,18) = 14.63) after tMCAO. Subcortical CBF 2 h after tMCAO was higher in anti-GPIb treated animals (45.3±5.9 vs. controls: 33.6±4.3; p = 0.04). In both regions, CBF findings were clearly related to a lower probability of infarction (Cortex/Subcortex of treated group: 35%/65% vs. controls: 95%/100%) and improved quantitative-T2 and ADC. After pMCAO, anti-GPIb treated mice developed similar infarcts preceded by severe irreversible hypoperfusion as controls after tMCAO indicating dependency of stroke protection on reperfusion.
Conclusion
Blockade of platelet adhesion by anti-GPIb-Fab-fragments results in substantially improved CBF early during reperfusion. This finding was in exact spatial correspondence with the prevention of cerebral infarction and indicates in-vivo an increased patency of the microcirculation. Thus, progression of infarction during early ischemia and reperfusion can be mitigated by anti-platelet treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018386
PMCID: PMC3069968  PMID: 21483769

Results 1-5 (5)