This work utilises general numerical magnetic resonance imaging MRI simulations to predict the spatial specificity of the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) functional MRI (fMRI) signal. A Monte Carlo simulation approach was utilized on a microvascular structure consisting of randomly oriented cylinders representing blood vessels. This framework was employed to numerically investigate the spatial specificity, defined as ratio of pial vessel to microvascular signal, of the spin echo BOLD fMRI signal as a function of field strength, echo time and tissue types [grey matter (GM) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), respectively]. Spatial specificity of spin echo BOLD fMRI signal was determined to increase with field strength up to 16 T and with maximal specificity for echo time shorter than tissue T(2). In addition, it was found that, for large pial vessels, the extravascular signal decay could not be described using the oversimplified but nevertheless commonly employed mono-exponential signal decay approximation (MEA). Consequently, a recently proposed model relying on the MEA deviates substantially from our results on the spatial specificity. A refinement of this model is proposed based on an available, more detailed signal description. Finally, the effect of CSF on the spatial specificity was investigated. While a large spatial specificity of the spin echo BOLD fMRI signal is observed if a pial vessel is surrounded by grey matter, this is greatly reduced for a pial vessel situated on a GM/CSF interface, rendering the suppression of pial vessels on the cortex surface unlikely.
- Spatial specificity
- Infinite cylinder model
- Spin echo BOLD fMRI signal
- Mono-exponential signal decay
- SIGNAL CHANGES