DYNAMICDutch National 14 Tesla Initiative in MRI and Cognition


Prof. David Norris
Geert Grooteplein Zuid 10, 6525 GA Nijmegen
Radboud University, Radboud UMC, UMC Utrecht, Amsterdam UMC, Leiden UMC, Maastricht University, Spinoza Centre (KNAW) Amsterdam

The Netherlands has assumed a leading international position in ultrahigh field MRI research, which complements its already leading position in cognitive neuroimaging and neuroscience. This proposal would create a national
resource with the world’s first 14 Tesla MRI system, giving a focus for both MR- and cognitive neuro-scientists, and synergistic benefits that will take both fields to a higher level.
Worldwide, 7 Tesla systems are widely available, with some 9.4 Tesla systems in use and several 11.7 Tesla systems close to function. Developments in niobium-tin-based superconducting magnets have made field strengths above 12 Tesla feasible, and the new future standard will be 14 Tesla. This initiative would place the Netherlands at the international forefront of engineering and methodology development. It will be possible because of the concerted efforts of all leading Dutch MRI centres (Amsterdam, Leiden, Maastricht, Nijmegen,
Utrecht) with prior 7 Tesla experience.

The proposal is to establish the world's first 14 Tesla MRI. Research will be structured into three scientific themes (robust imaging and proton spectroscopy of the brain; novel brain imaging techniques; X-nuclei applications), each supported by its corresponding methodological pillar. For each, we show exemplary new and exciting applications, in the full expectation that complementary new ideas will develop from these. The first scientific theme, and first priority after installation, is to use relatively simple MR data acquisition techniques to take advantage of the 14 Tesla field strength and to quickly make breakthroughs in cognitive neuroscience, by for example: obtaining anatomical images of the brain at unprecedented resolution; being able for the first time to image both excitatory and inhibitory activity simultaneously; measuring brain responses with high temporal and spatial resolution in single trial experiments and thus being able to explore how the brain adapts and learns. We shall initially perform hypothesis driven experiments in relatively small groups of healthy volunteers. Once the techniques have become fully established, we shall extend them to image larger cohorts, and to obtain a better understanding of neuro-pathologies such as Parkinsonism. By exploiting the potential of 14 Tesla acquisition to disambiguate neurovascular effects from physiological noise, and to eliminate fully the latter, we shall be able to obtain uncorrupted measures of brain connectivity and exploit these to obtain definitive normal atlases of brain connectivity variation with age. With these techniques we shall establish high quality anatomical imaging of the brain with T1 and T2* contrast, functional neuroimaging using gradient echo EPI, and rapid proton spectroscopic imaging, particularly of the important neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate.

The second thematic area covers novel and exploratory neuroimaging techniques. These include, diffusion weighted imaging and, the direct measurement of neuronal currents. The third thematic area covers the use of nuclei other than protons (X-nuclei), which are ideally suited to high field exploration due to the significant boost in their low sensitivities. Nuclei studied will include deuterium, carbon and phosphorus, as well as potentially sodium/potassium. Information from X-nuclei can offer fundamental new insights into brain metabolism, and into a range of metabolic diseases and psychiatric disorders.

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