• fMRI;
  • ASL;
  • BOLD;
  • hand motor area;
  • reproducibility


The new clinically available arterial spin labeling (ASL) perfusion imaging sequences present some advantages relatively to the commonly used blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) method for functional brain studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In particular, regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) changes are thought to be more directly related with neuronal activation. In this study, we aimed to investigate the accuracy of the functional localization of the hand motor area obtained by simultaneous CBF and BOLD contrasts provided by ASL functional MRI (fMRI) and compare it with a standard BOLD fMRI protocol. For this purpose, we measured the distance between the center of gravity of the activation clusters obtained with each contrast (CBF, BOLDASL, and Standard BOLD) and 11 positions defined on a well-established anatomical landmark of the hand motor area (the omega in the axial plane of the precentral gyrus). We found that CBF measurements were significantly closer to the anatomical landmark than the ones obtained using either simultaneous BOLDASL or standard BOLD contrasts. Moreover, we also observed reduced intersubject variability of the functional localization, as well as percent signal change, for CBF relative to both BOLD contrast measurements. In conclusion, our results add further evidence in support to the notion that CBF provides a more accurate localization of motor activation than BOLD contrast, indicating that ASL may be an appropriate technique for clinical fMRI studies. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.