fMRI responses during perceptual decision-making at 3 and 7 Tesla in human cortex, striatum, and brainstem
Date of Archiving2021
Display more detailsDisplay less details
SW OZ DCC CO
Key wordsultra-high field MRI; 7 T fMRI; brainstem; ventral tegmental area; perceptual decision-making; reward
While functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at ultra-high field (7 Tesla) promises a general increase in sensitivity compared to lower field strengths, the benefits may be most pronounced for specific applications. The current study aimed to evaluate the relative benefit of 7 T over 3 T fMRI for the assessment of responses evoked in different brain regions by a well-controlled cognitive task. At 3 T and 7 T, the same participants made challenging perceptual decisions about visual motion combined with monetary rewards for correct choices. Previous work on this task has extensively characterized the underlying cognitive computations and single-cell responses in cortical and subcortical structures. We quantified the evoked fMRI responses in extrastriate visual cortical areas, the striatum, and the brainstem during the decision interval and the post-feedback interval of the task. The dependence of response amplitudes on field strength during the decision interval differed between cortical, striatal, and brainstem regions, with a generally bigger 7 T vs. 3 T benefit in subcortical structures. We also found stronger responses during relatively easier than harder decisions at 7 T for dopaminergic midbrain nuclei, in line with reward expectation. Our results demonstrate the potential of 7 T fMRI for illuminating the contribution of small brainstem nuclei to the orchestration of cognitive computations in the human brain.