A review of the development of Vascular-Space-Occupancy (VASO) fMRI

Hanzhang Lu, Peter C M van Zijl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Vascular-Space-Occupancy (VASO) fMRI is a non-invasive technique to detect brain activation based on changes in Cerebral Blood Volume (CBV), as opposed to conventional BOLD fMRI, which is based on changes in blood oxygenation. This technique takes advantage of the T1 difference between blood and surrounding tissue, and uses an inversion recovery pulse sequence to null blood signal while maintaining part of the tissue signal. The VASO signal intensity can thus be considered proportional to 1-CBV. When neural activation causes CBV to increase, the VASO signal will show a decrease, allowing the detection of activated regions in the brain. Activation-induced changes in VASO signal, {increment}S/S, are in the order of -1%. Absolute quantification of {increment}CBV requires additional assumptions on baseline CBV and water contents of the parenchyma and blood. The first VASO experiment was conducted approximately 10. years ago. The original goal of nulling the blood signal was to isolate and measure extravascular BOLD effects, thus a long TE of 50. ms was used in the inversion recovery experiment. Instead of a positive signal change, a slight decrease in signal was observed, which became more pronounced when TE was shortened to 10. ms. These findings led to the hypothesis of a CBV signal mechanism and the development of VASO fMRI. Since its discovery, VASO has been validated by comparison with MION-CBV studies in animals and has been used in humans and animals to understand metabolic and hemodynamic changes during brain activation and physiologic challenges. With recent development of more sensitive VASO acquisitions, the availability of arterial-based VASO sequences, and improvement in spatial coverage, this technique is finding its place in neuroscience and clinical studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-742
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 15 2012


  • BOLD
  • Cerebral blood volume (CBV)
  • FMRI
  • Neurovascular coupling
  • Vascular-Space-Occupancy (VASO)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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