Multimodal Imaging and Neurostimulation

Researchers at the Department of Neuroradiology use a variety of imaging methods to examine scientific questions in fundamental and clinical research. Currently used techniques are listed below.

Multimodal Imaging

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

fMRI measures the ratio of oxygenated versus deoxygenated hemoglobin in specific brain areas and can thus indirectly monitor "activity" in these regions.

  • Macauda et al., Shared neural mechanisms between imagined and perceived egocentric motion - A combined GVS and fMRI study. Cortex, 2019 LINK
  • van Niftrik et al., The voxel-wise analysis of false negative fMRI activation in regions of provoked impaired cerebrovascular reactivity. PLoS One, 2019 LINK
  • Beisteiner et al., Can We Standardize Clinical Functional Neuroimaging Procedures? Front Neurol, 2019 LINK
  • Michels et al., Neuroplastic Changes in Older Adults Performing Cooperative Hand Movements. Front Hum Neurosci, 2018 LINK
  • Piccirelli et al., Impact of baseline CO2 on Blood-Oxygenation-Level-Dependent MRI measurements of cerebrovascular reactivity and task-evoked signal activation. Magn Reson Imaging, 2018 LINK
  • Naegeli et al., Locus Coeruleus Activity Mediates Hyperresponsiveness in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Biol Psychiatry, 2018 LINK
  • Piccirelli et al., Iterative analysis of cerebrovascular reactivity dynamic response by temporal decomposition. Brain Behav, 2017 LINK
  • Benner et al., Prevalence and function of Heschl's gyrus morphotypes in musicians. Brain Struct Funct, 2017 LINK
  • Tyndall et al., Presurgical motor, somatosensory and language fMRI: Technical feasibility and limitations in 491 patients over 13 years. Eur Radiol,  2017 LINK
  • Stippich C. (2015), Clinical Functional MR, Berlin, Springer LINK
  • Tozakidou et al., Primary motor cortex activation and lateralization in patients with tumors of the central region. Neuroimage Clin, 2013 LINK
Electroencephalography Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (EEG-fMRI)

EEG measures the brain's electrical activity through electrodes placed on the scalp. This method provides a good temporal but low spatial resolution. By combining EEG and fMRI measurements it is possible to monitor human brain function at high resolution in both dimensions.


  • Kottlow et al., Pre-stimulus BOLD-network activation modulates EEG spectral activity during working memory retention. Behav Neurosci, 2015 LINK
  • Michels et al., Developmental changes of BOLD signal correlations with global human EEG power and synchronization during working memory. PLoS One, 2012 LINK
  • Lüchinger et al., Brain state regulation during normal development: Intrinsic activity fluctuations in simultaneous EEG-fMRI. Neuroimage, 2012 LINK
Arterial Spin Labelling (ASL)

ASL is an MRI method to measure cerebral perfusion. At the Department of Neuroradiology static and dynamic ASL are employed.


  • Lewis et al., Two dose investigation of the 5-HT-agonist psilocybin on relative and global cerebral blood flow., Neuroimage, 2017 LINK
  • Michels et al., Arterial spin labeling imaging reveals widespread and Aβ-independent reductions in cerebral blood flow in elderly apolipoprotein epsilon-4 carriers. J. Cereb Blood Flow Metab, 2016 LINK
Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)

DTI is an MRI technique which tracks the diffusion of water molecules in brain tissue and can determine the location and orientation of white matter tracts. It is used for localizing white matter lesions and alterations, tumors, for surgical planning, and for diagnosing strokes.


  • Michels et al., Pain modulation is affected differently in medication-overuse headache and chronic myofascial pain - A multimodal MRI study. Cephalagia, 2017 LINK
  • Filli et al., Simultaneous Multislice Echo Planar Imaging With Blipped Controlled Aliasing in Parallel Imaging Results in Higher Acceleration: A Promising Technique for Accelerated Diffusion Tensor Imaging of Skeletal Muscle. Invest Radiol, 2015 LINK
  • Herweh et al., Loss of anisotropy in trigeminal neuralgia revealed by diffusion tensor imaging. Neurology, 2007 LINK
MR Spectroscopy (MRS)

MRS measures the concentration of metabolites in brain tissue. Since some neurological disorders produce specific metabolite profiles, MR spectroscopy can aid in their diagnosis. MRS techniques in use at the Department of Neuroradiology include GABA and glutathione (GSH) editing.


  • Riese et al., Posterior cingulate γ-aminobutyric acid and glutamate/glutamine are reduced in amnestic mild cognitive impairment and are unrelated to amyloid deposition and apolipoprotein E genotype. Neurobiol Aging, 2015 LINK
  • Bollmann et al., Developmental changes in gamma-aminobutyric acid levels in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Transl Psychiatry, 2015 LINK
  • Ghisleni et al., Subcortical glutamate mediates the reduction of short-range functional connectivity with age in a developmental cohort. J Neurosci, 2015 LINK
  • Ganewatte et al., A case report on 1-year follow-up of bilateral thalamic glioma. Neuroradiol J, 2015 LINK
  • Wyss et al., The Application of Human Spinal Cord Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy to Clinical Studies: A Review. Semin Ultrasound CT MR, 2017 LINK
Quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM)

QSM encompasses a group of methods which quantify the amount of iron, calcium, gadolinium and other compounds in tissue. These techniques can be used to analyze e.g. calcification, microbleeds, neurodegenerative disease.

T1/T2-weighted (high-resolution) imaging

MRI images can be acquired in different modes: In T1-weighted imaging, tissue with high fat content (e.g. white matter) is highlighted and tissue with high water content (e.g. CSF) appears dark, whereas in T2-weighted scans fluids are highlighted. The two complementary modes can be used to e.g. detect inflammation, infection, demyelination, and tumors, and can be extended to produce a range of different image types.


  • Aldusary et al., Lateral geniculate nucleus volumetry at 3T and 7T: Four different optimized magnetic-resonance-imaging sequences evaluated against a 7T reference acquisition. Neuroimage, 2019 LINK
  • Winklhofer et al., Degenerative lumbar spinal canal stenosis: intra- and inter-reader agreement for magnetic resonance imaging parameters. Eur Spine J., 2017 LINK
Inflow-based vascular-space-occupancy MRI (iVASO-MRI)

iVASO-MRI is based on zeroing out the inflowing blood and comparing the resulting image to a control scan without nulling. Based on the acquired images, the arterial cerebral blood volume can be calculated and vascular adjustments are determined. The technique can be used for discovering microvascular abnormalities and has been applied in tumor grading.

Blood Brain Barrier Imaging (BBB)

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) protects the brain by regulating the passage of ions, nutrients, macromolecules and neurotoxins from the blood. Dysfunction of the BBB is common in neurological disorders and imaging techniques, such as dynamic contrast‐enhanced CT and DCE-MRI, can visualize disease-related changes. Additionally, a new method called water-extraction-with-phase-contrast-arterial-spin-tagging (WEPCAST) has recently been developped to assess BBB permeability to water.

Real-time fMRI Neurofeedback (RT fMRI)

RT fMRI neurofeedback shows the activity of particular brain areas in real-time. Using this technology, study participants can train how to regulate specific brain regions.

Research project:

  • SNF-Grant 182803, Investigating attention and visual brain processing through neurofeedback intervention. LINK


Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation (tDCS)

tDCS is a neuromodulation method which uses constant, low direct current delivered via electrodes on the scalp to stimulate individual brain regions. Clinical applications include treatment of e.g. depression, chronical pain and migraine.


Prof. Dr. Michael Weller
Director a.i.
Tel. +41 44 255 56 00

PD Dr. phil. Lars Michels
Head of Basic Research, Group Leader
Tel. +41 44 255 49 65

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