Ultrafast fMRI: capturing the brain @work

I am a bit late to report it but here it is: researchers from Berkeley, Minnesota and Oxford have developed a new ultrafast EPI sequence for fMRI that brings down the repetition time (TR) to only 400 ms at 3T. Their finding was published in the 20 dec 2010 issue of PLoS one. This is exciting news: not only does it mean that faster processes in the brain can be followed than with conventional EPI, it also allows more full brain scans to be collected within a single scan session. Especially in the patients and healthy elderly subjects that I include for my own research, I am always careful not to extend total scanning time beyond one hour. Normally I use TRs of 2 seconds. With this advancement I would get five times the data in the same amount of scanning time! Or, the same amount of data in only one fifth of the time, which would hugely decrease the burden for subjects. This development also seems very interesting from the perspective of concurrent EEG-fMRI recording: even though the gap in temporal resolution is still very large, the two are getting closer together with this finding.