Resources and Facilities

The structural and functional neuroimaging core is located at the BYU Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Laboratory (MRIRF), which consists of more than 3,500 sq. ft. of office, classroom, and laboratory space. The facility is located in the McDonald Building on the BYU campus, and is in close proximity (a short walk) to faculty and student offices and laboratories in the Colleges of Engineering, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Family, Home, and Social Sciences.

Laboratory

The imaging facility contains an MRI coil laboratory fully equipped with oscilloscopes, a network analyzer, signal generators, a full size test bore/RF shield to simulate the MRI electrical environment, and other essential test and measurement equipment. In addition, the facility contains wet-lab space with a fume hood, two neurological evaluation rooms, ample preparation space immediately adjacent to the MRI scanner, and an MR physics laboratory.

Computer Resources

The imaging facility has 5 high-power multi-core workstations (2.4GHz 12-core Xeon Mac Pro workstation with 64GB memory, 3.2GHz 6-core Xeon Linux workstation with 64GB memory), as well as a high-performance computing cluster consisting of 9 networked 64bit multi-core Linux computers with minimum processor speeds of 2.4GHz and 8GB of memory. A 12 TB RAID storage device is also available at the facility for use on this proposal. Multiple administrative and workstation PCs and several Mac workstations are also available for use in the various lab areas inside the imaging facility. All computers are connected via a gigabit local-area network and to the internet for international electronic communication, and are carefully managed for security and data networking.

Office

Ample office and laboratory space is available for researchers on this project immediately within the 3,500 square foot imaging facility, and additional office and laboratory space is available a very short walk from the facility.

Major Equipment

MRI Scanner

A fully equipped Siemens TIM-Trio 3.0T MRI scanner with 32 RF receive channels, multi-nuclear capability, and complete neurological imaging software and hardware suite (fMRI, DTI, SWI, etc.) is housed in the MRI Research Facility. The scanner has an actively-shielded water-cooled high-performance gradient system (45 mT/m amplitude, 200 T/m/s slew rate), 32 high-speed RF receiver channels and RF body coil, both 12- and 32-channel head coils, small and large flexible surface coil arrays, and several coils of variable numbers of elements designed for specific body parts. Custom coils for unique geometries have been designed and fabricated in the MRI coil lab. The system is also equipped with pulse sequences and appropriate software for spectroscopy, functional MRI, diffusion tensor MRI and other high-end imaging capabilities. A user-friendly yet highly flexible pulse sequence development platform is also available to allow research in and development of novel techniques, and researchers with MRI pulse sequence development expertise are available for consultation by users of the facility.

Neuroimaging Capabilities

The 3T Trio MR scanner is housed in an RF-shielded room specially designed to the stringent shielding requirements for neuroimaging. The scanner control room was designed with a 48” LCD screen with video feeds of the scanner subject, as well as a shielded window for direct observation of the scanner subject. The facility is fully equipped with state-of-the-art pulse sequences for structural neuroimaging (DTI, FLAIR, SWI, T2, T1) and software packages and workstations for image analysis (e.g., FreeSurfer for volumes/cortical thickness, AFNI and SPM for fMRI analysis). In addition, the 3T facility includes a stimulus-presentation computer with E-PRIME and Matlab software for design and presentation of fMRI experiment stimuli to subjects in the 3T scanner. The fMRI Stimulus-Presenting PC controls the presentation of stimuli according to a pre-planned paradigm, records participant responses from button box, and records the temporal relation between stimuli, responses, and acquired raw fMRI brain images. The scanner room contains high-quality audio-visual stimulus-presenting equipment: fMRI visual stimulus projection system with a high-resolution LCD screen; VGA coupler for simultaneous video display to subject and operator; magnet-compatible stereophonic audio system with ear-bud headset, noise reduction cups & break-in microphone for presentation of audio signals and communication between subject and operator. An MR-compatible, fast-response button box with 4 switches and fiber-optic interface is provided for transmitting subject responses from within the scanner room to stimulus-presenting computer without generating electromagnetic noise that can degrade the weak MRI signals that form the raw brain image data. The MRI scanner room is equipped with an in-bore eye-tracking system (EyeLink 1000 Plus; SR Research Ltd.) to allow monitoring and recording real-time eye movements from participants undergoing MRI scanning. Electroencephalagraphic (EEG) data can be recorded using the 64-channel MicroMagLink (Compumedics Neuroscan) system for simultaneous EEG/ERP and fMRI. Analysis software (CURRY 7) is also available at the Facility. A Doty Scientific Litzcage coil (38 mm dia x 50mm RF rung length; quadrature tuning with) is available for small animal imaging system for mouse (head and body) or rat (head only). Tissue biopsies that can fit into a 50 cc centrifuge vial can also be imaged using the Litzcage coil.

Data Processing and Storage

Data processing and storage: The Neuroimaging Data System, housed in the MRI research facility, has very fast multi-core workstations for post-processing and analysis of both structural images and fMRI data sets, as well as a 12 TB RAID data storage system which can make structural and functional data of an entire experimental cohort available for statistical analysis. In addition, the MRIRF offers tools for the de-identification of human subjects data to comply with HIPAA rules for confidentiality of human subject information.