In fMRI, any fluctuation of signal intensity, not recognized as a result of a specific task, is treated as noise. One source for “noise” is subject motion. Normally, motion effects are reduced by applying realignment. We investigate how apt a realignment procedure is in removing motion-related effects by comparing the distribution of the normalized standard deviation of each voxel, NSD (=standard deviation/mean), before and after realignment.
We use data acquired from a simulation program developed previously. This program covers the effects of spin history, slice profiles, and motion in (f)MRI. We simulated inter-volume motion perpendicular to the slices of a digital, artificial head phantom, with and without spin history. In all cases, fluctuations in signal intensity were reduced after standard realignment. This effect was strongest when no spin history was present. Hence, spin history has a marked effect on the “noise.”
The spatial distribution of NSD showed similarities to the structures of the brain. This indicates that (residual) motion effects were largest at the transitions between tissues. Possibly, the spatial distribution of NSD can provide a (independent) tool to investigate brain structure. Furthermore, the method presented can be used to qualitatively compare different “noise” reduction steps in fMRI data analysis.
What is the impact of the spin history and position history on signal intensity after the alignment of acquired volumes? This question arises in many fMRI studies. We will focus on spin-history artefacts generated by the position-history of the scanned object. In fMRI an object is driven to steady state by applying a few dummy scans at the start of each measurement. A change in object position will disrupt the tissue's steady state magnetization. The disruption will propagate to the next few acquired volumes until a steady state is reached again. The variables which are involved in changing the longitudinal magnetization are: the shape and the position of the slice profiles, the times at which RF pulses occurred, the equilibrium magnetization map and the T1 map. Knowledge of these variables enables the prediction of those situations and the locations where the spin-history may compromise the fMRI analysis. In this paper we present a simulation of spin-history artefacts. The simulation shows that these effects, following a displacement, are similar to the transient period at the beginning of the measurement. Introducing gaps between the acquired slices increases these artefacts.