Innovative design achieves tenfold better resolution for functional MRI brain imaging

November 29, 2023

An intense international effort to improve the resolution of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for studying the human brain has culminated in an ultra-high resolution 7 Tesla scanner that records up to 10 times more detail than current 7T scanners and over 50 times more detail than current 3T scanners, the mainstay of most hospitals.

The dramatically improved resolution means that scientists can see functional MRI (fMRI) features 0.4 millimeters across, compared to the 2 or 3 millimeters typical of today's standard 3T fMRIs.

"The NexGen 7T scanner is a new tool that allows us to look at the brain circuitry underlying different diseases of the brain with higher spatial resolution in fMRI, diffusion and structural imaging, and therefore to perform human neuroscience research at higher granularity. This puts UC Berkeley at the forefront of human neuroimaging research," said David Feinberg, the director of the project to build the scanner, acting professor at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, and president of Advanced MRI Technologies (AMRIT), a research company based in Sebastopol, California.

"The ultra-high resolution scanner will allow research on underlying changes in brain circuitry in a multitude of brain disorders, including degenerative diseases, schizophrenia and developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder."

This next generation or NexGen 7T MRI scanner is described in a paper that will be published Nov. 27 in the journal Nature Methods.

Berkeley News