Imaging brain function with simultaneous BOLD and viscoelasticity contrast: fMRI/fMRE

Patricia S. Lan, Kevin J. Glaser, Richard L. Ehman, Gary H. Glover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is emerging as a new tool for studying viscoelastic changes in the brain resulting from functional processes. Here, we demonstrate a novel time series method to generate robust functional magnetic resonance elastography (fMRE) activation maps in response to a visual task with a flashing checkerboard stimulus. Using a single-shot spin-echo (SS-SE) pulse sequence, the underlying raw images inherently contain blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) contrast, allowing simultaneous generation of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activation maps from the magnitude and functional magnetic resonance elastography (fMRE) maps from the phase. This allows an accurate comparison of the spatially localized stiffness (fMRE) and BOLD (fMRI) changes within a single scan, eliminating confounds inherent in separately acquired scans. Results indicate that tissue stiffness within the visual cortex increases 6–11% with visual stimuli, whereas the BOLD signal change was 1–2%. Furthermore, the fMRE and fMRI activation maps have strong spatial overlap within the visual cortex, providing convincing evidence that fMRE is possible in the brain. However, the fMRE temporal SNR (tSNRfMRE) maps are heterogeneous across the brain. Using a dictionary matching approach to characterize the time series, the viscoelastic changes are consistent with a viscoelastic response function (VRF) time constant of 12.1 ​s ± 3.0 ​s for a first-order exponential decay, or a shape parameter of 8.1 ​s ± 1.4 ​s for a gamma-variate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116592
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • BOLD
  • Multimodal
  • Stiffness
  • Viscoelasticity
  • fMRE
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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