On the impact of physiological noise in spinal cord functional MRI

Michela Fratini, Marta Moraschi, Bruno Maraviglia, Federico Giove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques are widely exploited for the study of brain activation. In recent years, similar approaches have been attempted for the study of spinal cord function; however, obtaining good functional images of spinal cord still represents a technical and scientific challenge. Some of the main limiting factors can be classified under the broad category of "physiological noise," and are related to 1) the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flux in the subarachnoid space surrounding the spinal cord; 2) the cord motion itself; and 3) the small area of the cord, which makes it critical to have a high image resolution. In addition, the different magnetic susceptibility properties of tissues surrounding the spinal cord reduce the local homogeneity of the static magnetic field, causing image distortion, reduction of the effective resolution, and signal loss, all effects that are modulated by motion. For these reasons, a number of methods have been developed for the purpose of denoising spinal cord fMRI time series. In this work, after a short introduction on the relevant features of the spinal cord anatomy, we review the main sources of physiological noise in spinal cord fMRI and discuss the main approaches useful for its mitigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)770-777
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • FMRI
  • Physiological noise
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Medicine(all)


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