K. Mueller, T. Mildner, T. Fritz, J. Lepsien, C. Schwarzbauer, M. L. Schroeter, H. E. Moller



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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in auditory experiments is a challenge, because the scanning procedure produces considerable noise that can interfere with the auditory paradigm. The noise might either mask the auditory material presented, or interfere with stimuli designed to evoke emotions because it sounds loud and rather unpleasant. Therefore, scanning paradigms that allow interleaved auditory stimulation and image acquisition appear to be advantageous. The sparse temporal sampling (STS) technique uses a very long repetition time in order to achieve a stimulus presentation in the absence of scanner noise. Although only relatively few volumes are acquired for the resulting data sets, there have been recent studies where this method has furthered remarkable results. A new development is the interleaved silent steady state (ISSS) technique. Compared with STS, this method is capable of acquiring several volumes in the time frame between the auditory trials (while the magnetization is kept in a steady state during stimulus presentation). In order to draw conclusions about the optimum fMRI procedure with auditory stimulation, different echo-planar imaging (EPI) acquisition schemes were compared: Continuous scanning, STS, and ISSS. The total acquisition time of each sequence was adjusted to about 12.5 min. The results indicate that the ISSS approach exhibits the highest sensitivity in detecting subtle activity in sub-cortical brain regions. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.