Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Felix W. Wehrli


The brain is almost entirely dependent on oxidative metabolism to meet its energy requirements. As such, the cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) is a direct measure of brain energy use. CMRO2 provides insight into brain functional architecture and has demonstrated potential as a clinical tool for assessing many common neurological disorders.

Recent developments in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based CMRO2 quantification have shown promise in spatially resolving CMRO2 in clinically feasible scan times. However, brain energy requirements are both spatially heterogeneous and temporally dynamic, responding to rapid changes in oxygen supply and demand in response to physiologic stimuli and neuronal activation.

Methods for dynamic quantification of CMRO2 are lacking, and this dissertation aims to address this gap. Given the fundamental tradeoff between spatial and temporal resolution in MRI, we focus initially on the latter. Central to each proposed method is a model-based approach for deriving venous oxygen saturation (Yv) – the critical parameter for CMRO2 quantification – from MRI signal phase using susceptometry-based oximetry (SBO).

First, a three-second-temporal-resolution technique for whole-brain quantification of Yv and CMRO2 is presented. This OxFlow method is applied to measure a small but highly significant increase in CMRO2 in response to volitional apnea.

Next, OxFlow is combined with a competing approach for Yv quantification based on blood T2 relaxometry (TRUST). The resulting interleaved-TRUST (iTRUST) pulse sequence greatly improves T2-based CMRO2 quantification, while allowing direct, simultaneous comparison of SBO- and T2-based Yv. iTRUST is applied to assess the CMRO2 response to hypercapnia – a topic of great interest in functional neuroimaging – demonstrating significant biases between SBO- and T2-derived Yv and CMRO2.

To address the need for dynamic and spatially resolved CMRO2 quantification, we explore blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) calibration, introducing a new calibration model and hybrid pulse sequence combining OxFlow with standard BOLD/CBF measurement. Preliminary results suggest Ox-BOLD provides improved calibration “M-maps” for converting BOLD signal to CMRO2.

Finally, OxFlow is applied clinically to patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A small clinical pilot study demonstrates OSA-associated reductions in CMRO2 at baseline and in response to apnea, highlighting the potential utility of dynamic CMRO2 quantification in assessing neuropathology.

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