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Mapping of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to conventional anatomical MRI is a valuable step in the interpretation of fMRI activations. One of the main limits on the accuracy of this alignment arises from differences in the geometric distortion induced by magnetic field inhomogeneity. This paper describes an approach to the registration of echo planar image (EPI) data to conventional anatomical images which takes into account this difference in geometric distortion. The authors make use of an additional spin echo EPI image and use the known signal conservation in spin echo distortion to derive a specialized multimodality nonrigid registration algorithm. They also examine a plausible modification using log-intensity evaluation of the criterion to provide increased sensitivity in areas of low EPI signal. A phantom-based imaging experiment is used to evaluate the behavior of the different criteria, comparing nonrigid displacement estimates to those provided by a magnetic field mapping acquisition. The algorithm is then applied to a range of nine brain imaging studies illustrating global and local improvement in the anatomical alignment and localization of fMRI activations.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2000