Background: The specificity of gradient echo (GE)-BOLD laminar fMRI activation profiles is degraded by intracortical veins that drain blood from lower to upper cortical layers, propagating activation signal in the same direction. This work describes an approach to obtain layer specific profiles by deconvolving the measured profiles with a physiological Point Spread Function (PSF). New Method: It is shown that the PSF can be characterised by a TE-dependent peak to tail (p2t) value that is independent of cortical depth and can be estimated by simulation. An experimental estimation of individual p2t values and the sensitivity of the deconvolved profiles to variations in p2t is obtained using laminar data measured with a multi-echo 3D-FLASH sequence. These profiles are echo time dependent, but the underlying neuronal response is the same, allowing a data-based estimation of the PSF. Results: The deconvolved profiles are highly similar to the gold-standard obtained from extremely high resolution 3D-EPI data, for a range of p2t values of 5-9, which covers both the empirically determined value (7.1) and the value obtained by simulation (6.3). Comparison with Existing Method(s): Corrected profiles show a flatter shape across the cortex and a high level of similarity with the gold-standard, defined as a subset of profiles that are unaffected by intracortical veins. Conclusions: We conclude that deconvolution is a robust approach for removing the effect of signal propagation through intracortical veins. This makes it possible to obtain profiles with high laminar specificity while benefitting from the higher sensitivity and efficiency of GE-BOLD sequences.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience