Functional MRI

Main responsible: Patrick Fisher

At NRU, we apply functional magnetic resonance imaging to extract features of brain function, connectivity and blood flow that we in turn map onto molecular, behavioral and clinical phenotypes as well as pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions.

Our application of BOLD fMRI includes the acquisition of resting-state fMRI and task-based fMRI, including paradigms related to threat, reward, aggression, and learning as well as visual, auditory and motor processing. Measures of blood flow are acquired with pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling (pcASL). We integrate multivariate analytic strategies (e.g., linear latent variable models) to extract informative clinical markers and cross-validated machine learning frameworks (e.g., randomForest classification) to identify biomarkers that inform treatment response or patient prognosis.

Consistent with the translational research aims of NRU, fMRI data acquisition is integrated into many research projects with healthy and patient human populations. Leveraging a particular strength of NRU, many of our human studies combine the complementary information about brain function that is gained from fMRI and brain chemistry that is gained from PET.

MRI data are acquired primarily on a Siemens 3T Prisma scanner (installed Nov. 2019) with a 32- and 64-channel head-coil. Through collaboration with the Department of Clinical Physiology, Nuclear Medicine & PET, we also collect data on a Siemens 3T mMR Biograph combined PET-MRI scanner. To meet the needs of large-scale data collection, we have in-house pipelines that facilitate rapid and documented data preprocessing and analysis.

We are thrilled to develop local and international collaborations including those that apply fMRI to address immediately relevant clinical research questions. In addition to international collaborations, we have on-going clinical projects with partners in the Danish Capital Region including the Departments of Psychiatry, Cardiology, and Neurology as well as the Danish Headache Center at Rigshospitalet (Blegdamsvej and Glostrup).

Examples of recent publications:

  • Hansen HD, Lindberg U, Ozenne B, Fisher PM, Johansen A, Svarer C, Keller SH, Hansen AE, Knudsen GM. 2020. Visual stimuli induce serotonin release in occipital cortex: A simultaneous positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance imaging study. Human Brain Mapping. 47: 4753-4763. DOI: 10.1002/hbm.25156.
  • da Cunha-Bang S, Fisher PM, Hjordt L V, Holst K, Knudsen GM. 2019. Amygdala reactivity to fearful faces correlates positively with impulsive aggression. Social Neuroscience. 14: 162–172. DOI: 10.1080/17470919.2017.1421262.
  • Borgsted C, Ozenne B, Mc Mahon B, Madsen MK, Hjordt LV, Hageman I, Baaré WFC, Knudsen GM, Fisher PM. 2018. Amygdala response to emotional faces in seasonal affective disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders. 229: 288–295. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.12.097.
  • da Cunha-Bang S, Fisher PM, Hjordt L V., Perfalk E, Beliveau V, Holst K, Knudsen GM. 2018. Men with high serotonin 1B receptor binding respond to provocations with heightened amygdala reactivity. NeuroImage. 166: 79–85. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.10.032.
  • da Cunha-Bang S, Fisher PM, Hjordt LV, Perfalk E, Skibsted AP, Bock C, Baandrup A, Deen M, Thomsen C, Sestoft DM, Knudsen GM. 2017. Violent offenders respond to provocations with high amygdala and striatal reactivity. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 12: 802–810. DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsx006.
  • Fisher PM, Larsen CB, Beliveau V, Henningsson S, Pinborg A, Holst KK, Jensen PS, Svarer C, Siebner HR, Knudsen GM, Frokjaer VG. 2017. Pharmacologically Induced Sex Hormone Fluctuation Effects on Resting-State Functional Connectivity in a Risk Model for Depression: A Randomized Trial. Neuropsychopharmacology. 42: 446–453. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2016.208.
  • Kondziella D, Fisher PM, Larsen VA, Hauerberg J, Fabricius M, Møller K, Knudsen GM. 2017. Functional MRI for Assessment of the Default Mode Network in Acute Brain Injury. Neurocritical Care. 27: 401–406. DOI: 10.1007/s12028-017-0407-6.