Previous studies comparing fMRI data acquired at 1.5 T and higher field strengths have focused on examining signal increases in the visual and motor cortices. No information is, however, available on the relative gain, or the comparability of data, obtained at higher field strengths for other brain regions such as the prefrontal and other association cortices. In the present study, we investigated fMRI activation at 1.5 and 3 T during visual perception, visuospatial working memory, and affect-processing tasks. A 23% increase in striate and extrastriate activation volume was observed at 3 T compared with that for 1.5 T during the visual perception task. During the working memory task significant increases in activation volume were observed in frontal and parietal association cortices as well as subcortical structures, including the caudate, globus pallidus, putamen, and thalamus. Increases in working memory-related activation volume of 82, 73, 83, and 36% were observed in the left frontal, right frontal, left parietal, and right parietal lobes, respectively, for 3 T compared with 1.5 T. These increases were characterized by increased activation at 3 T in several prefrontal and parietal cortex regions that showed activation at 1.5 T. More importantly, at 3 T, activation was detected in several regions, such as the ventral aspects of the inferior frontal gyrus, orbitofrontal gyrus, and lingual gyrus, which did not show significant activation at 1.5 T. No difference in height or extent of activation was detected between the two scanners in the amygdala during affect processing. Signal dropout in the amygdala from susceptibility artifact was greater at 3 T, with a 12% dropout at 3 T compared with a 9% dropout at 1.5 T. The spatial smoothness of T2* images was greater at 3 T by less than 1 mm, suggesting that the greater extent of activation at 3 T beyond these spatial scales was not due primarily to increased intrinsic spatial correlations at 3 T. Rather, the increase in percentage of voxels activated reflects increased sensitivity for detection of brain activation at higher field strength. In summary, our findings suggest that functional imaging of prefrontal and other association cortices can benefit significantly from higher magnetic field strength.
View details for DOI 10.1016/S1053-8119(03)00002-8
View details for Web of Science ID 000182606000001
View details for PubMedID 12725758