Ultra-high-field functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) offers the way to new insights while increasing the spatial and temporal resolution. However, a crucial concern in 7T human MRI is the increase in power deposition, supervised through the specific absorption rate (SAR). The SAR limitation can restrict the brain coverage or the minimal repetition time of fMRI experiments. fMRI is based on the well-known gradient-echo echo-planar imaging (GRE-EPI) sequence, which offers ultrafast acquisition. Commonly, the GRE-EPI sequence comprises two pulses: fat suppression and excitation. This work provides the means for a significant reduction in the SAR by circumventing the fat-suppression pulse. Without this fat-suppression, however, lipid signal can result in artifacts due to the chemical shift between the lipid and water signals. Our approach exploits a reconstruction similar to the simultaneous-multi-slice (SMS) method to separate the lipid and water images, thus avoiding undesired lipid artifacts in brain images. The lipid-water separation is based on the known spatial shift of the lipid signal, which can be detected by the multi-channel coils sensitivity profiles. Our study shows robust human imaging, offering greater flexibility to reduce the SAR, shorten the repetition time or increase the volume coverage with substantial benefit for brain functional studies.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience