AUTHORS: Da Costa S, Clément J, Gruetter R, Ipek O

PLoS One, 16: e0254378, September 2021


The aim of the present study is to show a MR procedure for the evaluation of simultaneous left and right auditory functions with functional MRI, and high-resolution acquisition of anatomical auditory pathway using parallel-transmit (pTx) methods at 7T.
The time-efficient MR acquisition included two steps: RF weights were optimized for the regions-of-interest and high-resolution MR images of the inner-ear were acquired for the first 30 min (400 μm-iso resolution) followed by functional MRI acquisitions along the whole auditory pathway during the next 20 minutes. Data was processed with a linear cross-correlation analysis to define frequency preferences for each voxel in the auditory relays.
Tonotopic maps revealed ordered bilateral frequency gradients in the auditory relays whereas at the level of the cochlear nuclei and superior olivary complexes the frequency gradients were less evident. A 21% increase in transmit-field efficiency was achieved over the left/right inner-ear regions and thus its main structures were clearly discernible using the pTx methods, compared to a single transmit RF coil.
Using 7T pTx allows a fast (less than 60 min in total) and qualitative evaluation of the simultaneous left and right auditory response along the entire auditory pathway, together with high-resolution anatomical images of the inner-ear. This could be further used for patient examination at 7T.